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(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is the title lobby card for REDWOOD FOREST TRAIL (Republic, 1950). In the lower left are Jeff Donnell and Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer. In the lower right, Rex is mixing it up with John/Bob Cason.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is the title lobby card for RODEO KING AND THE SENORITA (Republic, 1951) which featured Mary Ellen Kay and Buddy Ebsen as Rex's sidekick.
Rex had different leading ladies and comic sidekicks in each of his 1950 movies: Gordon Jones and Teala Loring in ARIZONA COWBOY in which he is framed for a robbery and clears himself; Fuzzy Knight and Elisabeth Fraser in HILLS OF OKLAHOMA where he helps fellow cattlemen break a buyer monopoly; Carl Switzer (the former Alfalfa from the Little Rascals) and Jeff Donnell in REDWOOD FOREST TRAIL, this time battling a lumber magnate to save a boys' camp; and Buddy Ebsen and Dorothy Patrick in UNDER MEXACALI STARS, in which Rex is an undercover Treasury agent battling smugglers. Like most of his pictures, they are set in the modern West.  An airplane and a helicopter even figure in two of them.

Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003), future star of TV's BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and BARNABY JONES, would co-star with Rex in his next four from 1951, and Rex also got his most frequent leading lady, Mary Ellen Kay, in some of those.

In SILVER CITY BONANZA, Rex and Ebsen track down the murderer of a blind man (played by Harry Lauter), with the help of the victim's dog.  THUNDER IN GOD'S COUNTRY teams up Rex (as a traveling artist), Ebsen (as a deputy sheriff) and Lauter (the sheriff) as three World War II buddies who solve the murder of a newspaper publisher whose daughter is played by Mary Ellen Kay.  Koko gets to strut his stuff in RODEO KING AND THE SENORITA, in which Rex and Ebsen as rodeo performers solve the murder of a rodeo owner.  The "senorita" of the title is the owner's young daughter (Bonnie DeSimone) who becomes Koko's owner part-way through the story, only to see the horse taken from her by her guardian (Tris Coffin) and winning him back in a horse race while solving the murder.  Mary Ellen Kay plays the girl's governess, and shares a song with Rex.  Ebsen's last appearance is in UTAH WAGON TRAIN, with Penny Edwards as the heroine this time.

Slim Pickens (1919-1983) joined the series in 1952, and stayed with Rex through the rest of his 11 pictures.  Rex also acquired ace action director William Witney for all but his last two remaining scripts, and the man who helmed some of the best serials ever made at Republic, or anywhere else for that matter, greatly pepped up the action sequences.

"Billy was a great guy to work with.  He was always for speed," said Rex.  "If you got a half a day behind in production on those little Westerns, it was money.  It cost money and Billy would be the guy that got raked over the coals.  They wouldn't say anything to the actors or us but, if we were late, Billy was the guy who took the heat."

How did action director Witney handle the musical sequences in Rex's pictures? "He went away and stuck his fingers in his ears, I think," Rex joked.  Witney had directed Rex once before, in a 1950 Roy Rogers Trucolor film, TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD.  The story had to do with old-time movie star Jack Holt (played by himself) fighting a monopolistic syndicate to deliver Christmas trees to children at reasonable prices.  He is not only helped by Roy and sidekick Gordon Jones, but a bunch of movie actors who come to his aid when the drivers of his tree-laden wagons are frightened off by strong-arm tactics.

Rex arrives separately from the others, and has a slightly more prominent role, in his and Koko's only color outing.  The other guest stars include Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, William Farnum, Tom Tyler, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene and George Chesebro, playing a good guy for once.

As for Slim Pickens, he and Rex had been friends for years and would continue as Slim went on to work in pictures as varied as DR.  STRANGELOVE and BLAZING SADDLES.  "I knew Slim for several years before he worked with me in the film business, because I had rodeoed about the same time he did.  Slim was probably the top clown bull-fighter in the business.  You talk to any bull rider back in those days, and he would rather have Slim out in that arena to protect him than anybody in the world, because Slim could handle it.

Pickens would also work in some higher-budgeted Republic Westerns under Witney's direction, such as THE OUTCAST with John Derek and SANTA FE PASSAGE with John Payne and Rod Cameron.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is Christian 'Buddy' Ebsen (1908-2003).  In addition to starring in the long-running BARNABY JONES and BEVERLY HILLBILLIES Television shows, Ebsen is also remembered as sidekick 'Georgie Russell' to Fess Parker in the 1950s DAVY CROCKETT TV series from Walt Disney.
 

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Slim Pickens (1919-1983) whose real name was Louis Bert Lindley Jr.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Harry Lauter, Rex Allen and Harry Cheshire in THUNDER IN GOD'S COUNTRY (Republic, 1951).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Rex with the villainous June Vincent in a lobby card from COLORADO SUNDOWN (Republic, 1952).  Mary Ellen Kay was the heroine in this Allen film.


Slim's first pairing with Rex came in COLORADO SUNDOWN in which Slim and Mary Ellen Kay are heirs to a timber business that a ruthless brother and sister (Fred Graham and June Vincent) try to take over.  The rest of 1952 saw Rex and Slim in THE LAST MUSKETEER, in which Rex does a run across saddled horses at a hitching rail to land on Koko, although he said he wore tennis shoes for the stunt; BORDER SADDLEMATES, with Rex as a veterinarian teaming up with the Canadian Mounties to trap smugglers; OLD OKLAHOMA PLAINS, in which they test a new tank with which the Army hopes to replace its horses; and SOUTH PACIFIC TRAIL, where they help a rancher (Nestor Paiva) expose the suitor of his daughter (Estelita) as a fortune hunter (Mary Ellen Kay bowed out of the series after BORDER SADDLEMATES and Elaine Edwards stepped in for OLD OKLAHOMA PLAINS).

Rex and Slim turned out five pictures in 1953, starting with OLD OVERLAND TRAIL.  Rex plays an Indian agent in the old West, for a change, trying to help get a railroad built.  Gil Herman plays Rex's older brother, who wears his gun butt-forward like Rex, but otherwise is quite different: he is working with bad guy Roy Barcroft to stop the railroad, and is killed by Barcroft when he tries to back out.  Rex is framed for his death, but brings Barcroft's gang to justice with the help of a renegade Indian who is also betrayed by Barcroft's character, and who ends up saving Rex from being ambushed by Barcroft with an accurate arrow launched just before the Indian dies of his wounds.  That Indian was played by the future 'Mr. Spock', Leonard Nimoy.



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