Movie Review: Beyond the Purple Hills (1950)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1950 western starring Gene Autry and Jo-Carroll Dennison.

Synopsis: When a local judge is killed and his son is accused of committing the murder, Sheriff Gene Autry is forced to make an arrest. However, the accused, Jack Beaumont, claims he is innocent and, believing him, Autry seeks out evidence proving Beaumont's innocence and pointing toward the real killer or killers.

Who's In It?


It had been a while since I watched a classic western and, since I had a little more free time this morning than usual (I still had to go to work but the kids had the day off so I didn't have to get them ready for school), I decided to watch this Gene Autry film while having breakfast. It's one I hadn't seen before and, because of that, wasn't really sure what to expect. But, as it turns out, it was actually pretty entertaining.

I think the thing I liked most about this movie was it wasn't as predictable as I was expecting it to be. It's pretty obvious, from almost the beginning, who the bad guy/murderer really is. And, it doesn't take Autry too long to figure it out either. But, because all the evidence points to Beaumont (O'Brian), Autry has his work cut out for him.

The fact the real bad guy, Rocky Morgan (James Millican) is respected enough to turn the town against Autry and Beaumont, also adds a new level of entertainment because it's not clear whether Autry will be able to save the day before mob rule takes over.

Another thing that really helped this film was the comic relief provided by Autry's deputy, Mike Rawley (Buttram). I especially liked the part with him confusing Autry's horse (Champion) with a much smaller look-a-like, something he ends up blaming on his drinking. And, like all good comic relief, Buttram knew when to play the character with a more serious side.

One thing I did notice about this film is it didn't have as many musical performances from Autry as I've seen in some of his other "singing cowboy" films. I'm a little mixed on this because, while I'm usually somewhat annoyed by a lot of random songs in films from this genre, Autry is one of the few I do make an exception for and, when he does perform, the songs are really good.

Gene Autry Collection: Beyond the Purple Hills

Gene Autry takes over as a two-gun sheriff with Champion as his smartest deputy after bank robbers kill the former sheriff. When Judge Beaumont is murdered, circumstantial evide...

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Final Opinion

This is a fun classic western that has just the right amount of action and comedy and has a couple memorable song performances to boot. I would recommend taking the time to watch this film if you have a chance.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 10/10/2016, StevenHelmer
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