Friday, September 04, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Romance of the Rio Grande (1941)

ROMANCE OF THE RIO GRANDE (1941) is a well-crafted "B" Western starring Cesar Romero as the Cisco Kid.

The Cisco Kid, a genial bandit, happens across seriously injured Carlos Hernandez. Carlos, who has traveled from Spain to visit his wealthy grandfather for the first time, is a dead ringer for the Kid.

While Carlos is laid up recovering from a bullet wound, the Kid poses as Carlos and goes to see Carlos's grandfather (Pedro de Cordoba) at his estate. The Kid thinks he'll grab some quick money, but finds himself admiring the grandfather and also romancing two lovely ladies (Patricia Morison and Lynne Roberts). In due course the Kid helps Carlos fend off a murder plot by his jealous cousin Ricardo (Ricardo Cortez).

It's a short 72-minute film, but it's beautifully shot by Charles G. Clarke, with Lone Pine locations mixing with nice soundstage work. Some of the shots of Maria (Roberts) singing are exquisitely beautiful.

The film is also nicely scored, with Roberts singing two pretty songs. Morison, alas, doesn't have a chance to sing, but she has plenty of screen time as the calculating vixen who wants to marry money.

The supporting cast includes Cris-Pin Martin, Trevor Bardette, and Francis Ford. The movie was directed by Herbert I. Leeds, who worked on several movie series for 20th Century-Fox.

ROMANCE OF THE RIO GRANDE is available on DVD from Fox Cinema Archives. While the FCA DVDs of '50s films are of variable quality, including pan and scan prints, I've had very good luck with films of the '30s and '40s. The DVD looks great. There are no extras.


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