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Tex Ritter's 32nd musical Western for producer Edward F. Finney, THE PIONEERS was also perhaps Ritter's most unusual. "Suggested" by James Fenimore Cooper's 1853 THE LEATHERSTOCKING TALES, the Western featured both Ritter and sidekick Slim Andrews wearing buckskin jackets, the latter even completing his ensemble with a homey coonskin cap. Ritter and Andrews played trail guides saving a wagon train from an Indian attack, much to the dismay of land owner J.W. Carson (Karl Hackett). Carson, along with henchmen Wilson (George Chesebro) and Jingo (Lynton Brent), had orchestrated the raid in an attempt to scare settlers away from a valuable parcel of land. Tex, meanwhile, is falsely accused of murdering one of the settlers, Ames (Del Lawrence), whose daughter Suzannah (Wanda McKay) Carson has been courting. Ritter narrowly escapes a lynching party to hook up with his pal Red Foley. Together with Slim and Doye O'Dell (of radio fame), they manage to save Suzannah from a fate worse than death and the settlers from Carson's evil machinations. Making their screen debuts, country and western performers Foley and O'Dell played themselves, a rather odd choice for what was ostensibly a Fenimore Cooper adaptation. THE PIONEERS, alas, was Ritter's final solo starring vehicle.

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ALP5864 Pioneers, The DVD (1941/Tex Ritter) $5.99