Roy Rogers was the king of the cowboys. He made over 100 movies
in the course of his career, and was so popular that most of the characters
he played were even named "Roy Rogers." Along with his
costar Dale Evans and his horse Trigger, Roy was a staple in western movies
for decades. Republic in association with Lion's Gate has released
one of Roy's later pictures, 1950's The Bells of Coronado.
The plot to this modern day westerns is fairly simple. Someone
has been stealing Uranium from a mine, and the insurance company that is
covering the mine hires Rogers to see if he can find out what's happening.
Roy travels to the area posing as an out of work ranch hand and lands a
job with the Coronado Power Company. While stringing power lines
across the county, Roy investigates the mine, and finds out that someone
is stealing the Uranium with the purpose of selling it to an enemy power.
There isn't a lot of plot to this movie, but there is a lot of action.
Director William Witney, who is famous for all of the great serials he
directed for Republic, starts the movie off with the robbery of a wagon
full of Uranium and keeps up the fast pace. There are shootouts,
fistfights and horse chases. Not to mention a few songs thrown in
for good measure.
Unfortunately the script for this oater is very weak. There's
a lot that doesn't make sense if you think about it too closely.
At one point, Roy has an innocent man arrested (with his consent of course)
to trick the real crooks into making a mistake. How's that again
Roy? There are a lot of amazing coincidences too, with Roy arriving
at the mine just as it's being robbed for example, but you have to expect
a certain amount of that in westerns. The one thing that I found
really humorous is that everyone still rides around on horses, though cars
are prevalent. This movie takes place after WWII, but the hands stringing
the power lines still ride miles out into the desert on horseback instead
of taking a truck. And apparently the Uranium mine can't afford a
vehicle either since they take their ore into town by wagon. It's
all in good fun though, and this is still a somewhat enjoyable, if predictable,
The two channel mono soundtrack was acceptable. It wasn't dynamic,
and there was a little noise, but it wasn't too bad. The dialog was
easy to hear and understand, and the sound effects were clear.
The full frame video was a mixed bag at best. The 'Trucolor' picture
was bright and vivid, but there were many, many digital defects that really
marred the film. There was a lot of aliasing, and the background
images seemed to have an outline that made them look blurry. The
worst part was the shimmering of tightly spaced lines. Roy's shirts
were especially bad. These take on a life of their own, dancing and
moving about in strange patterns even when Roy is standing still and the
camera wasn't moving. This was very distracting. There were
a lot of examples of cross coloration also, making rainbow patterns appear
on shirts and some background details. While the movie was still
watchable, these defects definitely interfered with my enjoyment of the
film. For a movie that lasts a little over an hour, this is unacceptable.
There were not any extras on this DVD, not even a trailer.
Since the film is very short there was plenty of room on the DVD to put
another movie, or a couple of episodes of a TV western. They should have
included something else.
I like westerns as much as the next guy, but this wasn't an outstanding
example, especially for 1950. A B-picture aimed at a young audience,
this film was fun to watch, but quickly fades from memory soon after Roy
and Dale ride off into the sunset. The horrible digital defects in
the video, and the fact that this bare bones DVD only has a single hour-long
movie means that you should Skip It. There just wasn't a lot
of value there.