Cast & Crew
In June, 1860, at a St. Louis opera house, Jerry Barton, "King of the Minstrels," performs in blackface. Backstage, he asks his sweetheart, Lettie Morgan, to elope with him that night. Lettie's bossy aunt interrupts the couple and, fearing that Jerry is a fortune hunter, tells Lettie she is not the heiress she thought she was and has been living off her aunt's charity. After Jerry tells Lettie that an artist cannot be burdened with the responsibility of a wife, she sadly leaves the theater. Outside, Lettie bumps into a chorus girl named Honey, who is meeting her theatrical troupe, which is taking a caravan West. When the troupe's producer mistakes Lettie for the star, who is late, she joins the group as "Mary Varden." The troupe's wagon train is being escorted by Captain Tex Autry of the U.S. Cavalry and his singing plainsmen. The troupe misses the wagon train, however, and must travel solo. They reach California safely, but while en route to San Francisco, they are ambushed by a gang of thieves. Tex and his men arrive on the scene and scare off the gang with a gunfight. After Tex saves the producer and Lettie from a runaway wagon, he comments on the foolishness of his men and him risking their lives for a bunch of "crazy showgirls." His insolence angers Lettie, and she decides to walk rather than ride with Tex. Eventually tiring, Lettie asks Tex if she may ride with him, and the troupe arrives safely at Fort Henry, which is run by Colonel Seward. A friendly Indian named Young Deer warns Tex that Chief White Eagle is preparing to wage an attack on the army. When horses are stolen from the fort by a renegade named Buck LaCrosse, Tex follows to save the horses. Utah Joe, in league with White Eagle, accuses Tex of complicity with the Indians, and he is arrested for treason, a crime punishable by death. Lettie's aunt arrives with Judge Forsythe Lane, who hopes to marry Lettie and use her money to run for president. Her aunt then tells Lettie that she is not penniless and advises her to marry Lane. Lettie appeals to Lane on Tex's behalf, intimating that she will marry him if he will save Tex. As the wagon train prepares to leave, Lettie sadly says goodbye to Tex, and Lane promises to join Lettie after the trial. Lane double-crosses Lettie, however; at the trial he secures Tex's conviction by saying, "Benedict Arnold was also a distinguished soldier." After he is found guilty and sentenced to death, Tex escapes with the help of his friends, Buffalo, Idaho Kid and Frog. Suspicious that Utah Joe has promised to supply White Eagle with ammunition, Tex orders Frog to join the wagon train to spy on Utah Joe. While the caravan camps, Frog tells Lettie that Lane encouraged Tex's conviction. Honey, who has fallen in love with Frog, tells Lettie that Lane was probably jealous of Lettie's feelings for Tex, but Lettie denies loving the soldier. When Utah Joe announces plans to take a new route through Kern Valley, Frog asserts that the valley is filled with renegades and unfriendly Indians, but is rebuffed by Lane. In the night, Tex arrives and overhears Utah Joe direct White Eagle to the wagons stocked with gunpowder. Tex pulls his gun on them, and a fight ensues during which LaCrosse arrives. As Frog and Tex try to fight off the renegades, the soldiers ride up. White Eagle is shot during the scuffle, but Utah Joe escapes. LaCrosse is arrested and, under the threat of a firing squad, confesses that Utah Joe instigated the horse stealing at the fort, while he let loose the clever black stallion who opened the corral gate. LaCrosse also warns the caravan that Utah Joe is leading them into an ambush. As the caravan packs to flee, Utah Joe, now dressed as an Indian, sends a smoke signal, and the Indians encroach. Frog is grazed by a bullet and inadvertently attaches himself to the underside of the runaway powder wagon. Tex saves him and ignites the wagon, sending it, blazing, into a throng of Indians. The arrival of the plainsmen causes the Indians to retreat. As the wagon train departs, Tex and Lettie kiss, and Honey nurses Frog behind the embracing couple.
Chief Big Tree
Chief Thunder Cloud
Joseph H. Lewis
Republic's 1935-36 season line-up as announced in the 1935 Film Daily Product Guide includes a Gene Autry film called Tex Comes A-Singin', which May have been a working title for this film. Allan Sears was a bass opera singer prior to appearing in this film; Hollywood Reporter referred to him as "Allan Sears of the sepulchral voice." According to press material in copyright records, among the North American Indian tribes represented in the film are the Apache, Black Feet, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Hopi, Mission, Navajo, Nez Perce, Osage, Ojibway, Pawnee, Penobscot, Pueblo and Sioux. A modern source adds Edmund Cobb and George Letz to the cast and credits Bill Witney with the story.