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Image Entertainment presents
Gold Mine in the Sky (1938)

"A lot of things could happen. Stampedes, cattle rustlers...."
- Gene Autry

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: February 06, 2007

Stars: Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Carol Hughes, Craig Reynolds
Other Stars: Helen Ainsworth, LeRoy Mason, Frankie Marvin, Robert Homans, Pee Wee King
Director: Joseph Kane

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild western violence)
Run Time: 00h:59m:29s
Release Date: February 06, 2007
UPC: 014381346923
Genre: western


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C CB+B B

DVD Review

Despite the title, there are no gold mines in this contribution from Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette, and precious little sky to be seen. Instead, it's a fairly dreary little family melodrama for the most part, punctuated by a couple of good action sequences. The basic outline is fairly cookie cutter in nature and would be remade with varying titles several times over the course of Autry's career.

Gene is named executor and trustee of his friend Lucky Langham (Robert Homans), with his primary charge being to hold the ranch in trust until daughter Cody Langham (Carol Hughes) finds a suitable husband, of whom Gene approves. When high-living Cody comes to the ranch, she decides to force an accommodation with Autry by getting him to approve of her boyfriend, slick and slightly crooked Larry Commings (Craig Reynolds). When Gene sees through Larry's money-grubbing ways, Larry decides to take matters into his own hands by hiring some big city thugs to murder Autry, and failing that to kidnap Cody and demand a large ransom.

The action highlight turns out to be a complete fraud, which is a little disappointing. It's a cattle rustling that is in fact engineered by Autry to discourage Cody from trying to sell off the livestock, a bit of questionable ethics that totally backfires in some unexpected ways. Nonetheless, it's not a bad little sequence, with a good cross country chase backing it up. One surprising element here is that Gene actually gets shot, with visible blood on his head, which makes a clear contrast to the generally antiseptic presentation of these B westerns.

The supporting cast is reasonably enjoyable. Hughes, who co-starred with Autry several more times, is suitably spunky and insufferable by turns. Reynolds is pure slime to the point one expects him to twirl a moustache as he ties Hughes to a railroad track. Helen Ainsworth plays Jane Crocker, Cody's hefty confidante quite broadly also, making her a suitable foil for portly Smiley Brunette.

Gene and Smiley handle most of the tunes, but the Golden West Cowboys also make an appearance, led by an uncredited Pee Wee King. As a result, this title could be of significant interest to fans of classic country and western music. While the songs are not all that memorable, there are certainly plenty of them (over half of the disc's chapter stops are devoted to musical numbers). Perhaps that's meant to make up for the slender plot and the running time (under an hour), which is short even for a Republic B western.

Songs:

When We're Coming Around the Bend
There's a Gold Mine in the Sky
That's How Donkeys Were Born
Dude Ranch Cowhands
I'd Love to Call You Sweetheart
Hike Yaa
I'm a Tumbleweed Tenor
As Long as I Have My Horse
There's a Gold Mine in the Sky


Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The source print is in quite exceptional condition, and sports plenty of detail and texture. Hardly a speckle is to be seen, and there's no serious damage at all. While there's grain, it's reasonably smooth and is rendered well. The greyscale is excellent. The exception is the cattle drive sequence, which may be stock footage. This portion appears very dupey by contrast. But on the whole it's one of the more attractive prints in the series.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 1.0 mono audio is just as clean, with hardly any noise or crackle. There's decent range for a 1930s soundtrack, especially on the music. The guitar in particular has shockingly good presence for the period.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 9 cues and remote access
Production Notes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Radio show
  2. Galleries
  3. The Phantom Empire Chapter 2
Extras Review: Gene and Pat Buttram return with another 1987 episode of Melody Ranch Theater (12m:35S), the highlight of which is Gene recalling the writing of the classic tune Riding Down the Canyon. The January 5, 1947 episode of Autry's radio show Melody Ranch is included, featuring special guest star Smiley Burnette and a tribute to the cowboy's horse. The usual panoply of galleries and production reports are present as well, including a special dispensation from the Screen Actors Guild to bill the Golden West Cowboys as a group instead of as individual actors. Alex Gordon contributes a short set of informative production notes.

The Gene Autry Centennial extras include the second chapter of the pioneering sci-fi serial The Phantom Empire (1935), which was Autry's first starring movie role. The first episode can be found on the new Public Cowboy No. 1 DVD. Although that episode was in nice condition, this second chapter, The Thunder Riders (20m:02s), is much more mixed and somewhat contrasty throughout. More galleries of stills, lobby cards and posters are included here as well.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Pretty pedestrian Autry material, but it certainly is a lovely source print. Collectors of the serial will want it for chapter 2 of The Phantom Empire

 


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