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Under Western Stars

Under Western Stars(1938)


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The film's pre-production title was Washington Cowboy. A Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Charles E. Ford as the film's producer, but all other sources list only Sol C. Siegel as associate producer. According to contemporary sources, this film was originally to have starred Gene Autry, but when Autry went on strike against Republic Pictures in December 1937, Roy Rogers was named as his replacement. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter on February 24, 1938, the songs "Listen to the Rhythm of the Range" and "Dust" were purchased by Republic from the composers, Autry and Johnny Marvin, for use in this picture, which was not yet in production. A subsequent news item in Hollywood Reporter on April 13, 1938, just prior to the film's release, noted that Autry was suing the studio for $25,000 for unauthorized use and dramatization of the lyrics to "Dust." The song, which is sung by Rogers during his character's screening of a film about the effects of a drought, is not listed in the onscreen credits, nor are Autry or Marvin listed. In Film Daily Year Book, only Marvin is credited with "Dust" and "Listen to the Rhythm of the Range." The latter song was not included in the released film. According to modern sources, the suit over "Dust" was settled out of court prior to Autry's return to work at Republic in May 1938. For additional information on the Autry-Republic dispute, see Notes on entries for The Old Barn Dance and Gold Mine in the Sky. This was Rogers' first starring film. Reviews were positive about his career potential. Film Daily said that Rogers "should prove a hit," Variety predicted that he "lives up to every expectation and then some....End of year will find Rogers firmly embedded in draw firmament," and Box Office called Rogers a "new crooning son of the travel far and fast toward the top among the action favorites." Aside from Autry and John Wayne, Rogers was the only "Western" star to be included in Variety's annual list of the top ten box office stars. According to modern sources, portions of the film were shot on location in Lone Pina, CA and actors Tex Cooper, Curley Dresden, Bill Wolfe, Jack Ingram, Jack Kirk and Fred Burns were in the cast. "Dust" was nominated for an Academy Award.