Dude - where's my ranch?
May 18, 2007 3:26 AM   Subscribe

Yipee ti-yi - zap! The original Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, defends his Radio Ranch (Autry was a radio star at the time) from gunslingers and Indians evil scientists, and robots from an underground civilization, in a 1935 twelve-chapter movie serial. It's Autry's first movie role (playing a singing cowboy named Gene Autry), and the first talking science fiction film. Longer plot summary of Chapter 1 and Chapter 4.
posted by Kirth Gerson (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have actually watched this whole thing! (Thanks to my boyfriend, who is an old-serials nut.) And it is, truly, the god-damndest thing I have ever seen in my life. The combination of singing cowboys, evil scientists in pith helmets, rodeo-riding kids, subterranean people of the future in Ming-the-Merciless getups, comic-relief harmonica-playing cowboy sidekicks, and cardboard robots is just hard to beat.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:57 AM on May 18, 2007

I've seen every Gene Autry movie from start to finish (long ago research project). Makes taking ecstasy seem like child's play after a while.

While it can't be long for this world given the stiff competition emerging from Amazon and Netflix and others, and given the truly crappy content, lame-assed streaming servers, and matching low-budget technology and design, the website MovieFlix.com has a large selection of Gene Autry movies and other Classic Western serials streaming for free (with registration and login). You need to wear gloves when you visit that site, and don't do it at work because it's also a really cheesy porn site (the best of forgotten 70s not-classics, if you're interested in a trip down porn's memory lane).

Here's a link to their Autry offerings,
including the spectacular Public Cowboy Number One. Remember, tread carefully as some of this site is NSFW.

Grab the good stuff before they go under. A handy stream recorder is all that's needed. And it's probably not illegal (I'd have to check that for the Autry catalog, but it's true of most classic Westerns from the 30s) Most of these movies have long been in the public domain, which is why cheapo exploitation sites like MovieFLix can offer them as "free content" in order to sell their much lamer licensed porn content.

So steal their stuff. It's free and legal.
posted by spitbull at 5:28 AM on May 18, 2007

Aw, yeah - Junior Thunder Riders forever!
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:25 AM on May 18, 2007

Don't forget the Cowboy Code:

Autry created the Cowboy Code or Cowboy Commandments in response to his young radio listeners aspiring to be just like Gene.

1.The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2.He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3.He must always tell the truth.
4.He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5.He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6.He must help people in distress.
7.He must be a good worker.
8.He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9.He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10.The Cowboy is a patriot.
posted by Floydd at 6:28 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Many many years ago, before PBS pledge drives had turned into a never-ending list of repeat doo-wop music specials, the guys who programmed WCBB in Lewiston, ME (where I grew up) were always trying new things, and I will never forget spending an entire Saturday GLUED to the little B&W television in my bedroom watching this serial (using the inevitable breaks for pledging to use the bathroom, refill my drink. etc.)

They did the same thing another time with one of the Flash Gordon serials, too.
posted by briank at 6:33 AM on May 18, 2007

This post rocks.
posted by Mocata at 7:46 AM on May 18, 2007

I actually bought this on DVD. It's put together from the serial. "Radio Ranch" It is so wonderfully bad it's great.
Sci-Fi cowboys are so random.
posted by cccorlew at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2007

I watched this as a kid on Saturday mornings. Those bad guy costumes really gave me nightmares and the cliff-hanger at the end of each episode used to really tick me off! For years I'd try to explain this show to others: the underground city, Queen Tika, getting back to the ranch to sing . . . and folks always considered me delusional.
posted by ahimsakid at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2007

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