The Big Show


59m 1936

Brief Synopsis

When cowboy star Tom Ford disappears, Wilson gets his double Gene Autry to impersonate him. But Ford owes gangster Rico $10,000 and Rico arrives to collect. He fails to get the money but learns that Autry is an impersonator and now blackmails Wilson and his movie studio.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 16, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
59m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Singer Gene Autry doubles for Western movie star Tom Ford. When Ford goes on vacation during the Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas, at which he is supposed to make a guest appearance, publicity manager Lee Wilson convinces Gene to appear in Ford's place. En route to Dallas from Hollywood, Gene meets Marion, who is on her way to the centennial with her show steer, when his trailer collides with her wagon. Gene adeptly retrieves all her cattle, and Marion is impressed that a movie star can perform like a real cowboy. In Dallas, Gene, as Ford, sings over the air waves and is a national hit, and Ford's producer, Swartz, decides to launch a series of musical westerns starring Ford, even though Ford cannot sing a note. Gene and Marion's engagement is then announced in the newspapers, and Ford's fiancée is infuriated. Meanwhile, gambler Rico and his companion, Blackie, arrive to collect Ford's $10,000 debt, and Wilson is forced to pay it, plus $25,000 to keep Rico from revealing Gene's identity. Ford finally reports to Swartz, but he would rather appease the blackmailers than replace Gene with the talentless Ford. Marion and Gene then perform in the "Cavalcade of Texas" as part of the centennial, and Ford's fiancée shows up, causing Marion to leave. To save his romance, Gene takes a risk by confessing his real identity over the air waves, but discovers the audience prefers him to the real Ford. Gene's confession ruins Rico's blackmail attempt, and he and his men escape with the blackmail money by dressing up as cowboys and joining the cavalcade act. Marion returns, and Gene chases the outlaws in real western style and eventually arrests them. In the chase, the money is lost by Gene's sidekick, Frog, in a lagoon. Back in Hollywood, Gene sings to Marion on the set of his new movie, where Ford works as his double, and she and Gene kiss.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 16, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
59m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Interesting piece for anyone who lives or has lived in Dallas. Almost all the scenes were filmed on location at the (then) brand new Fair Park which served as the location of the 1936 Texas Centennial and has served as the location of the Texas State Fair since. Many of the buildings in the film still exist in what has been called the largest collection of art deco buildings in the world. Also seen is the WRR radio building. WRR is the only city owned radio station in the country and still broadcasts from the original building, the lagoon which was pretty barren back then, and Dallas trolley cars which served downtown at the time and had just been expanded to Fair Park to service the Centennial. Not seen is the Cotton Bowl which was not constructed until years later.

The film was cut to 54 minutes for television release in the mid-1950's and has only recently been restored to its original running time, thanks to the combined efforts of The Western Movie Channel, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Notes

This film began shooting at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas in mid-September 1936. According to Daily Variety, with the return of the cast and crew from Dallas, studio production began on 30 September with Joe Kane directing. Kane also appears in Hollywood Reporter production charts as director, although he does not receive director credit on the viewed print. It is unclear what portion of the film, if any, he directed. A Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Governor James Allred of Texas in the cast. Production charts also list John McBurney as photographer, although he does not receive credit on the viewed print or in reviews. A modern source lists the following additional cast members: Slim Whitaker, George Chesebro, Edward Hearn, Cliff Lyons, Tracy Layne, Jack Rockwell, Frankie Marvin, Cornelius Keefe, Horace Carpenter, Frances Morris, Richard Beach, I. Standford Jolley, Sally Rand and The SMU 50.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1936

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 48-Hour Cowboy Movie Marathon) March 18-31, 1976.)

Released in United States 1936

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - The Americas: A National Portrait) March 18-31, 1976.)