Cast & Crew
Derwin M. Abrahams
Since the imprisonment of her husband for safe-cracking, Mary Croft has been operating a stage and freight line with the assistance of foreman Jimmy Wakely and his pal "Cannonball." When Mary's daughter Pat returns home from school and introduces her traveling companion, Lance Regan, to her, Mary hires Regan after he states that he was once a prison guard and knew a prisoner, Patrick Collins. Jimmy assigns Regan to guard an ore shipment but he is held up by Mason and his gang, who express surprise at seeing him working in an honest job. After Regan explains that he is waiting for a chance to rob Mary of further valuable shipments, he and Mason team up. Later, Regan abandons a shipment, but Jimmy arrives just in time to save the money chest. Mary attempts to fire Regan, but he blackmails her by threatening to reveal that she is a convict's wife. Suspicious of Regan, Jimmy has Cannonball trick him into posing for a picture in order to check up on him. When Regan kills a prospector on his way to record a rich strike, Jimmy decides to investigate further and visits convict Collins, who reveals that Mary and Pat are his wife and daughter and that Regan was his cellmate. As Pat is being romanced by Regan, her mother decides to send her away to prevent complications. Collins escapes from jail to thwart Regan's schemes, but is killed when he discovers Regan and Mason robbing Mary's safe. However, Jimmy and Cannonball pursue the murderers and bring them to justice.
Derwin M. Abrahams
William H. Ruhl
Louis M. Armstrong
J. Benton Cheney
Lee "lasses" White
Cowboy Cavalier -
Tagline for Cowboy Cavalier
Crooning and fighting were the stock in trade of the singing cowboy, a breed fast dying out when Jimmy Wakely starred in this 1948 oater. It was made during the fourth year in his five-year run at Monogram Pictures. Though a far cry from the vehicles Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey made at Republic, Wakely's films were genial and fast moving. His popularity as a recording star makes showing one of his films an essential part of TCM's biggest-ever festival of Western films.
The script by Western veterans Ronald Davidson and J. Benton Cheney has Wakely and his comic sidekick, Dub Taylor, working on Claire Whitney's stagecoach line. When Whitney's daughter (Jan Bryant) returns from college, she meets a former prison guard (Douglas Evans) on the train. As soon as he mentions where he worked, Whitney hires him, but he seems more intent on helping the outlaws that prey on the stage line than protecting the family business. It takes some detective work by Wakely and Taylor to uncover his connection to the family and save the day.
Wakely was performing in Oklahoma as part of a country-Western group, the Jimmy Wakely Trio, when Autrey discovered them and invited them to appear on Melody Ranch, a radio show he was preparing for CBS. The group also spent five years appearing as musical background in B Westerns with such stars as Roy Rogers, Johnny Mac Brown, Tex Ritter and Hopalong Cassidy. They even made one film with Autrey, Heart of the Rio Grande (1942). In 1941, Wakely started working as a solo recording artist for Decca records.
After appearing in some of Monogram's Range Busters pictures, Wakely returned to the studio in 1944, making 28 Westerns for them over the next five years. The films followed the standard singing cowboy format, with Wakely singing a few songs, protecting the leading lady from some dastardly outlaw and sharing comic scenes with a sidekick, most often Taylor or Lee "Lasses" White. The films did well for the studio, but by 1949, when the series ended, B Westerns were on their way out, with the audience eventually deserting movies for television.
For Cowboy Cavalier, Wakely sang two songs, "Night After Night," which he co-wrote with Doris Mayer, and "Mine, All Mine," by frequent sidekick White. The latter did pretty well for him, reaching number eight on the U.S. country charts. A year earlier, Wakely had scored two number one hits with "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)" and "I Love You So Much It Hurts," though neither came from his films. He would enjoy his biggest hit a year later with "Slippin' Around," a duet with Margaret Whiting that crossed over to top the pop charts.
Wakely's sidekick, Taylor, was another B Western stalwart, having provided comic relief for such stars as Charles Starrett, Don "Red" Barry and Bill Elliott. He even got to sing in Cowboy Cavalier, performing "That Old Mule of Mine." He was a former football player who played with Alabama's Crimson Tide in the 1938 Rose Bowl game and an accomplished musician. His skills at playing the xylophone brought him his first film role, as Ann Miller's husband in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You (1938). As a character actor, he was less affected by changing tastes in entertainment. With the decline of the B Western he simply moved into other genres and television, working steadily for the next five decades. In later life, he was a favorite of directors like Robert Zemickis, who cast him in such films as Used Cars (1980) and the Western-set Back to the Future Part III (1990), and Sam Peckinpah, who used him in Major Dundee (1965), The Wild Bunch (1969), Junior Bonner (1972), The Getaway (1972) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).
Director: Derwin Abrahams
Producer: Louis Gray
Screenplay: Ronald Davidson, J. Benton Cheney
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Music: Edward J. Kay Cast: Jimmy Wakely (Jimmy Wakely), Dub Taylor (Cannonball), Jan Bryant (Pat Croft), Douglas Evans (Lance Regan), Claire Whitney (Mary Croft), William Ruhl (Mason)
By Frank Miller
Cowboy Cavalier -
This film's working title was Saddle Serenade.