During world-war-two, Arizona cattle-ranch owner Steve Bradley (Charles Starrett) and his pal Spud Harrigan (Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams) join the army and are assigned to a camp near his ranch. He makes his cousin Tex Coulter (Tex Ritter) the ranch foreman. On his first furlough he returns to the ranch and, much to his dismay, finds that due.to the wartime man-power shortage, that all of his cowboys have been replaced by cowgirls. He is assigned to help build the morale of the soldiers and decides to open a canteen where the soldiers can go for coffee-and-doughnuts, and be entertained by local talent. Local talent consists of the MIlls Brothers, Jimmy Wakely and his Saddle Pals, Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys and Girls and ventriloquist Professor Merlin (Max Terhune) ans his wooden dummy Elmer Sneezeweed (Elmer). He also has a fistfight with cousin Tex over the affections of Connie Gray (Jane Frazee.)
After "Hollywood Canteen" and "Stage Door Canteen" had been released as flag-wavers intended to raise money for the named USO operations, Columbia got into the act with this effort. As with the earlier two, it was an all-star operation, but in this case it was cowboy stars, with a strong emphasis on singing cowboys, an occasional ventriloquist (in the person of Max Terhune) and the ladies in the show drawn from the Columbia shorts department.
It's a lighthearted effort and a considerable pleasure to see so many of the leading cowboy actors of the era in one spot and an excellent chance to play spot the stars. It's also a fine survey of western music at the time -- at this point, western swing was biggest genre of music in terms of sales -- including swing, ballads, traditional (from Tex Ritter) as well as major talents such as Roy Acuff and the Mills Brothers. As a snapshot of the era, as a musical anthology and as a chance to see more vanished stars than there are in heaven, it's a must-see movie for the real movie fan. Two cowboy heroes Charles 'The Durango Kid' Starrett and Tex Ritter who is among the acts as well vie for the affections of Jane Frazee in Cowboy Canteen. There's very little western in this western other than cowboy clothes. All this is film's story does is allow for a dozen or so performers to do their shtick.
Frazee and Barbara Jo Allen better known as Vera Vague of the Bob Hope Show are part of a theatrical troupe that is taking over the ranch of Starrett while he and his foreman Guinn Williams go to war.
Besides doing the male ranch jobs, Frazee and Allen decide to keep their entertainment skills honed by turning the barn into a theater and putting on a show for the men in uniform. I think you see where this is going.
Nothing special, but the acts are good and Frazee winds up with one of them. a5c7b9f00b
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