Ridin' on a Rainbow

Ridin' on a Rainbow

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lew Landers
Produced by Harry Grey
Screenplay by
  • Bradford Ropes
  • Doris Malloy
Story by Bradford Ropes
Music by Raoul Kraushaar (supervisor)
Cinematography William Nobles
Edited by Tony Martinelli
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release dates
  • January 24, 1941 (1941-01-24) (U.S.)
Running time
75 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $91,854[1]

Ridin' on a Rainbow is a 1941 American Western musical film directed by Lew Landers and starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, and Mary Lee. Based on a story by Bradford Ropes, the film is about a singing cowboy whose investigation of a bank robbery takes him to a showboat, where he finds that a teenage singer's father has been working with the robbers to provide for her future.[1][2] The film received an Academy Award nomination for best original song for "Be Honest with Me" (Gene Autry, Fred Rose).[1][3]


Singing cowboy and rancher Gene Autry (Gene Autry) arrives in the town of Riverton and helps his fellow cattlemen sell their herds for the first profit they've seen in four years. Gene convinces the cattlemen to deposit their money into Eben Carter's bank for safekeeping before going out to watch the parade. Captain 'Lijah Bartlett (Ferris Taylor) has just arrived on the riverboat Jolly Betsy with its troupe of entertainers who are now parading through town. While the townspeople are distracted, Matt Evans (Byron Foulger), a washed-up dancer looking to provide for his young daughter Patsy (Mary Lee), reluctantly assists Blake and Morrison rob the bank. Evans is shocked when they gun down Carter, but still agrees when the men order him to bring the money to them in nearby Colesburg.

Feeling responsible for the loss of his friends' money, Gene sets out to find the bank robbers and recover the stolen money, with the help of his sidekick Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) and Sheriff Jim Mason (Guy Usher). They track Evans to the showboat, but Evans is able to elude them after telling Patsy to meet him later in Colesburg. With Patsy as their only lead, Gene persuades the sheriff to go easy on her. As part of their investigation, Gene and Frog are hired as performers by Captain Bartlett, who does not know they are working with the sheriff. Genuinely concerned with Patsy's welfare, Gene tries to befriend the youngster, who is torn between telling the truth and her loyalty to her father. Patsy is able to convince Gene to let her go ashore alone at Colesburg, but when she sees the sheriff, who has arrived without Gene's knowledge, she assumes that Gene is going to double-cross her and informs the captain of Gene's identity.

Patsy gathers the stolen money her father had hidden on the boat and sneaks ashore to the inn where he is hiding. There she pleads with her father to turn himself in and return the money. Before they can leave, however, Blake and Morrison arrive at the inn. Patsy locks herself in the next room and listens in horror as the bank robbers shoot her father after he tells them where the money is stashed. Patsy gives her dog Spotlight her room key, helps him through a window, and tells him to go to the showboat, where the dog gives the key to Gene. Knowing what has happened, Gene, Frog, and the others rush to the inn and rescue Patsy just as the bank robbers are about to kidnap her. After giving his farewell performance on the showboat, Gene takes Patsy to live with him on his ranch.[1]



Filming and budget

Ridin' on a Rainbow was filmed November 26 to December 13, 1940. The film had an operating budget of $91,854 (equal to $1,554,100 today), and a negative cost of $88,767.[1]


Filming locations




  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Magers 2007, p. 180.
  2. "Ridin' on a Rainbow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  3. "Awards for Ridin' on a Rainbow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  4. "Carol Adams (1918-2012)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  5. 1 2 "Full cast and crew for Ridin' on a Rainbow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  6. Magers 2007, pp. 179–180.
  7. "Soundtracks for Ridin' on a Rainbow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  • George-Warren, Holly (2007). Public Cowboy no. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195177466. 
  • Green, Douglas B. (2002). Singing in the Saddle: The History of the Singing Cowboy. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. ISBN 978-0826514127. 
  • Magers, Boyd (2007). Gene Autry Westerns. Madison, NC: Empire Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-0944019498. 
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