Cast & Crew
Federal agent Gene Autry and his men are sent to Mexico, where they are to contact the American Consulate for further instructions. At the fiesta, Gene has his heart stolen by the beautiful Señorita Dolores Mendoza. Soon after, he meets with the American Consul, who informs him that Dolores' brother Andreo is the pawn of a gang of foreign agents operating on the island of Palmero with the objective of establishing an enemy submarine base that would put an end to Pan American neutrality. The Consul orders Gene to leave for Palermo immediately, using the excuse that he and his men are to help Don Diego Mendoza, Dolores's uncle, with his cattle roundup. Gene and his sidekick Frog arrive to find Don Diego's caballeros in fear of Andreo and his band of revolutionaries. Intercepting a secret code broadcast over the radio, Gene traces the signal to the abandoned oil fields and learns that enemy agents are plotting to gain control of American oil holdings which would enable them to establish a submarine refueling base. Gene cleverly allows an agent to escape and follows him to the office of Saunders, the head of the gang. Before Gene can act, Saunders captures him and then leads his men to drive a convoy of oil trucks to the submarines waiting offshore. Frog comes to Gene's rescue and, with the help of the Mexican army, they commandeer the trucks and arrest Saunders and his gang. The threat of revolution is ended when Andreo is killed while trying to escape, and Gene returns to his sweetheart Dolores only to discover that she has become a nun to atone for her brother's sins.
Claire Du Brey
The Checkerboard Band
E. G. Nelson
South of the Border - SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Autry was born in Tioga, Texas in 1907 and learned to sing and play after getting an $8 mail-order guitar when he was twelve. One night, while working as a telegraph operator in Oklahoma, he was overheard by Will Rogers who encouraged him to get into show business. Soon he was "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy" on Tulsa's KVOO in 1928. His melodious voice and western-style blues landed him a recording contract and in 1931 he recorded the hit "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine," the first-ever gold record.
Meanwhile the movie western, long a staple of silent cinema, had a difficult time during the transition to sound. Not only was it necessary to take the primitive microphones out of the sound studios into the outdoors, but also, with the craze for musicals, cowboys were required to sing. It was a trial for most but for Autry, singing a song while riding a horse was what he did best. In 1934 producer Nat Levine brought Autry to Hollywood for In Old Santa Fe (1934). By 1937 he was voted America's Favorite Cowboy and by 1940 was one of the four biggest stars in motion pictures.
After serving as a cargo plane flight officer in World War II, Autry resumed his movie career. The lower-budget westerns were declining at the box-office so Autry jumped into the new medium of television and became a star there as well. Shrewd investing made him rich and he put that money back into his loves; westerns on television, western culture and the California Angels baseball team that he purchased in 1961. He passed away in 1998.
South Of The Border (1939) has always been one of his best-loved films and watching it now in a beautifully restored print on this DVD immediately shows why. This western feature is as action-packed as a serial with Autry and his sidekick Smiley Burnette riding "south of the border down Mexico way" to stop a foreign power from fomenting a revolution in order to seize oil fields. Along the way there is some "mushy" stuff with Autry serenading a pretty senorita (Lupita Tovar, now best-known as Eva in the 1931 Spanish language version of Dracula) and comedy with a runaway teenage girl (Mary Lee) with a crush on the singing cowboy. Any dip in the action for a musical number is no drawback with the high quality of the songs here, particularly the title song and Autry's duet with Lee, "Goodbye Little Darlin' Goodbye," both big radio hits.
As a bonus on the DVD, Autry discusses how he acquired the song "South Of The Border" during a tour of the United Kingdom in 1939. This and more background to the film is provided in a 1987 interview Autry gave on The Nashville Network that is included here. In addition are a Gene Autry radio show plus production and publicity stills, poster art, lobby cards, production documents and the original press kit. Not only is there enough bounty here to enthrall any Western movie fan, but proceeds from the sale of this DVD also go to the benefit of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. Check out their website at www.Autry-Museum.org before you ride off to purchase this excellent DVD.
For more information about South of the Border, visit Image Entertainment. To order South of the Border, go to TCM Shopping.
by Brian Cady
South of the Border - SOUTH OF THE BORDER
The opening production credits were missing from the viewed print. According to an interview with Gene Autry, he introduced the title song while touring England. The tune subsequently became a best selling record. Modern sources add Charles King, Reed Howes, Jack O'Shea, Slim Whitaker, Hal Price, Julian Rivero, Art Wenzel and Autry's horse "Champion" to the cast.