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Rhythm on the Range

Rhythm on the Range
File:Rhythm on the Range Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Benjamin Glazer
Screenplay by
Story by Mervin J. Houser
Cinematography Karl Struss
Edited by Ellsworth Hoagland
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • July 1, 1936 (1936-07-01)
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Rhythm on the Range is a 1936 American Western musical film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Bing Crosby, Frances Farmer, and Bob Burns. Based on a story by Mervin J. Houser, the film is about a cowboy who meets a beautiful young woman while returning from a rodeo in the east, and invites her to stay at his California ranch to experience his simple, honest way of life.[1][2] Rhythm on the Range was Crosby's only western film (apart from the 1966 remake of Stagecoach) and is notable for his introduction of two important western songs, "Empty Saddles" by Billy Hill and "I'm an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande" by Johnny Mercer, the latter becoming a national hit song for Crosby.[3] The film played an important role in popularizing the singing cowboy and western music on a national level.[4]


Doris Halliday (Frances Farmer), the daughter of a wealthy banker, is about to marry a man she doesn't love so the family will become richer. Her outspoken aunt Penelope Ryland (Lucile Gleason), the owner of the Frying Pan Ranch in Arizona, objects to their marriage, claiming people should only be married if they love each other. Doris starts to see Penelope's point and eventually runs away the night before the wedding.

Doris hides in the wagon of a train owned by traveling cowboy Jeff Larabee (Bing Crosby). When they meet they take an immediate dislike for each other. Despite a few romantic moments, they fight all night long. The next day, Doris is to be left at a stop. When she is attacked by Jeff's prize cow, however, Jeff is forced to save her. The train eventually leaves without them. They decide to part their ways, until they discover it's a long way to the next stop. Doris secretly steals a car and gives Jeff a ride.

Penelope and her employee Buck (Bob Burns), who happens to be a friend of Jeff, try to find Doris. They take a train hoping to locate her. On the train, Buck meets Emma Mazda (Martha Raye). Emma is attracted to him and tries to flirt, but Buck isn't really interested. They both take off at a stop and decide to travel together. Meanwhile, Doris' father initiates a search to find his daughter and promises the one who brings her back a $5,000 reward. A couple of criminals, who have seen Doris, try to catch her and bring her back.

Jeff and Doris drive to his house, where they meet up with Buck and Emma, who are now in love and engaged. Buck suggests Jeff to ask to marry Doris as well, but he is reluctant to. The moment they do fall in love, they are located by Robert and Penelope. Penelope blames Jeff for being a gold digger and tries to protect Doris from him. Offended and confused, Jeff runs away. Doris follows him and declares her love. Jeff gives in and they kiss.



Filming locations



In his book, Singing in the Saddle, Douglas B. Green summarized Bing Crosby's impact on western music and the national interest in singing cowboys and the West during the 1930s.

Though born in the West, Harry Lillis Crosby (1903–1977) was anything but a cowboy. Yet he was one of the most influential performers in the style, for while earnest and sincere Gene Autry was appealing to middle and rural America, the ultrahot Crosby roped in the sophisticates with his frequent performances of western songs on film, on record, and especially on radio, where he was a national sensation. Though Crosby could deliver a western song with sincerity—he introduced "Empty Saddles" in Rhythm on the Range and had the true national hit recording of "Home on the Range"—he was at his best when mocking himself. Urbane and hip, he was no cowboy and he knew it, and when he poked fun at his image in a song like "I'm an Old Cowhand (from the Rio Grande)", he was at his most charming. Urbanites appreciated his cool irony and distancing, and yet while they smirked they could still enjoy the kitschy glamour of the West and the singing cowboy. Although Crosby attracted an audience entirely different from Autry's, both singers contributed enormously to the interest in cowboys, the West, and western music that permeated the country in the middle 1930s. Though the broad scope of Crosby's career extends far beyond western music, it is important to acknowledge his impact on the sudden and sustained interest in the singing cowboy during the formative years of the genre. Rhythm on the Range was a big-budget film and exemplified more than any other easily discerned landmark the embrace of the singing cowboy by Hollywood and by popular culture.[9]

On the aggregator reviewer web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 67% positive audience rating based on 106 user ratings. [10]


The film was remade in 1956 as Pardners, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who was cast in the Frances Farmer role.[11]


  1. ^ "Rhythm on the Range". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ Bookbinder 1977, pp. 77–79.
  3. ^ Green 2002, p. 71.
  4. ^ Green 2002, p. 156.
  5. ^ "Full cast and crew for Rhythm on the Range". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  6. ^ Bookbinder 1977, p. 77.
  7. ^ "Locations for Rhythm on the Range". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Soundtracks for Rhythm on the Range". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  9. ^ Green 2002, p. 156.
  10. ^ "Rhythm on the Range". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  11. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Rhythm on the Range". Allmovie. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  • Bookbinder, Robert (1977). The Films of Bing Crosby. Secaucus: The Cidadel Press. ISBN 978-0806505985. 
  • Green, Douglas B. (2002). Singing in the Saddle: The History of the Singing Cowboy. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. ISBN 978-0826514127. 

External links