Saturday matinee double features (the screening of two motion pictures for the price of one) were an industry standard in the first half of the 20th century. In 2017, the Autry National Center of the American West continues the tradition with its own Saturday matinee double features starring America's Favorite Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry. On the fourth Saturday of every other month, two Gene Autry films are screened at the museum in the Imagination Gallery's Western Legacy Theater.
The musical group that made the most appearances with Gene Autry in his movies was the Cass County Boys. They would also perform with Gene on his Columbia records, Melody Ranch radio show, "The Gene Autry Show" television series, and on tour. February's films showcase the musical trio in their first film with Gene, Sioux City Sue and in Robin Hood of Texas.
Comedian Pat Buttram was Gene Autry’s sidekick in movies, radio, television, and on tour. He made 17 Columbia Pictures films with Gene and two of his best are Mule Train and Blue Canadian Rockies. Pat provides the humor while Gene brings the songs in these action packed Westerns!
Gene Autry was the star of 89 movies with the first half of his big screen career at Republic Pictures between 1935 and 1947. All of his movies feature Gene's trademark music, comedy, and action with the Republics heavy on the music. There are nine musical performances in Boots and Saddles and seven in Western Jamboree. Be sure to sing along with Gene...and Smiley Burnette.
This year is the 75th Anniversary of Gene Autry enlisting in the Army Air Corps to do his part during World War II. Gene served from 1942 to 1946 entering as a Technical Sergeant, soon earning his wings as a Flight Officer, and at the end of the war, taking a USO troupe to the South Pacific. A few of his films leading up to Gene's military service referenced America's participation in World War II including this month's Double Feature selections – In Old Monterey (1939) and Heart of the Rio Grande (1942).
Get into the spooky spirit of the season with a pair of ghost-themed Westerns that find Gene Autry searching for the truth behind eerie ghost riders. Gene's an investigator in Riders in the Sky, and with the help of his sidekick Pat Buttram, he tries to clear an innocent man of murder. Then it's up to circuit-riding Judge Gene and his sidekick Smiley Burnette to unravel the mystery in Goldtown Ghost Riders.
Gene Autry had great success introducing seasonal songs and turning them into holiday hit records! On occasion these now iconic tunes were sung by Gene in his movies. His 1949 film The Cowboy and the Indians features the Christmas classic "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" and Hills of Utah from 1951 includes "Peter Cottontail."