Cast & Crew
Captain Elijah Bartlett brings his riverboat, the Jolly Betsy , with its troupe of entertainers to the town of Riverton, where Gene Autry has just aided his fellow cattlemen in selling their herds for the first profit they have seen in four years. After Gene convinces the men to put their money into Eben Carter's bank for safekeeping, they watch the showfolk parade through town. While the townspeople are distracted, Matt Evans, a washed-up dancer who desperately wants to provide for his young daughter Patsy, reluctantly helps toughs Blake and Morrison rob the bank. Evans is shocked when they kill Carter, yet agrees when the men order him to bring the money to them in nearby Colesburg. Gene blames himself for the loss of his friends' money and, with the aid of his pal, Frog Millhouse, and Sheriff Jim Mason, tracks Evans to the showboat. After telling Patsy to meet him in Colesburg, Evans eludes Gene and the others. Realizing that Patsy is their only lead, Gene persuades the sheriff to go easy on her, after which he and Frog are hired as performers by Captain Bartlett, who does not know of their connection with the sheriff and the robbery. Gene, genuinely concerned with Patsy's welfare, tries to befriend the youngster, who is torn between longing to tell the truth and loyalty to her father. Patsy convinces Gene to take a chance and let her go ashore alone at Colesburg, but when she sees the sheriff, who has arrived without Gene's knowledge, she assumes that Gene is going to double-cross her and informs the captain of Gene's identity. Taking the money Evans had hidden on the boat, Patsy sneaks ashore to the inn where he is hiding. Patsy pleads with her father to turn himself in and return the money, but before they can escape, Blake and Morrison enter. Patsy locks herself in the next room and listens in horror as the thieves shoot Evans after he tells them where Patsy has stashed the money. Patsy sends her dog "Spotlight" out the window with her room key and tells him to go to the showboat, where he gives the key to Gene. Gene, Frog and the others then race to the inn and rescue Patsy just as Blake and Morrison are about to leave with her. Later, Gene gives his farewell performance on the showboat before taking Patsy to live with him on his ranch.
Carson J. Robison
Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts referred to this film as Ridin' the Rainbow. Although a Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Mauri Grashin had been assigned to write additional comedy sequences, his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. This film marked the first time Gene Autry and Mary Lee appeared as co-stars. Lee also played a character named "Patsy" in the 1941 Republic release The Singing Hill (see below). The song "Be Honest with Me" was nominated for an Academy Award. Modern sources include Ed Cassidy, Ben Hall and William V. Mong in the cast.