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Image Entertainment presents
Shooting High (1940)

Will: That'd start the Carson-Pritchard feud again. Remember, the last one started over a cider press and cost the lives of five Pritchards.
Janey: And seven Carsons!
Will: Only six. Pneumonia set in on Jed.

- Gene Autry, Jane Withers

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 23, 2003

Stars: Jane Withers, Gene Autry, Marjorie Weaver
Other Stars: Frank M. Thomas, Robert Lowery, Katharine Aldridge, Hobart Cavanaugh, Jack Carson, Hamilton McFadden, Charles Middleton, Champion
Director: Alfred E. Green

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:05m:34s
Release Date: November 11, 2003
UPC: 014381400526
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+C+ B-

DVD Review

Gene Autry for many years worked exclusively for Republic Pictures. But by 1940 he was one of the biggest box office attractions and both he and Republic were looking for ways to get him more exposure. The opportunity came when 20th Century Fox teen star Jane Withers, a big Autry fan, demanded that the studio get him to be her co-star. This picture, a remake of Will Rogers' silent picture Jubilo, was thus Autry's first picture away from Republic, and the only film in which he didn't play himself.

Instead, Autry plays Will Carson, grandson of Wild Bill Carson, sheriff of Carson Corners, shot in the back by one of the Pritchards 80 years earlier. The Pritchards and Carsons are prone to erupting into blood feuds over nothing much, but Will has fallen for Margy Pritchard (Marjorie Weaver) anyway, and her little sister Janie (Withers) is determined to engineer their wedding. But father and banker Calvin Pritchard (Frank M. Thomas) has his own scheme to get the Carson lands to make a profit from a new highway. Meanwhile, a Hollywood production descends on Carson Corners to make a picture of Wild Bill's life, and Margy begins to fall for star Bob Merritt (Robert Lowery) and costar Evelyn Trent (Kay Aldridge) starts making moves for Will, who's acting as stunt rider. Mix in some bank robbers and wild chases, a couple pretty good songs and the result is plenty of fun.

Autry is in good form here, with a character that is a little more complicated than he usually got to play. Withers (who would become a household figure years later as Josephine the Plumber in Comet commercials, and more recently has been heard in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame films) is even more annoying than Mary Lee, who was a fixture in the Republic pictures. But she has an undeniable spunk that's hard to dislike. The absence of Smiley Burnette is deeply felt here, but there's still plenty of comedy, especially from Withers and comic sheriff Clem Perkle (Hobart Cavanaugh). Also in the cast are Charles Middleton, who had portrayed Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials and silent comedian Snub Pollard, reduced to an extra. The Hollywood group is pretty entertaining, with the script poking good-hearted fun at the difference between ordinary people and movie stars and crew.

Director Alfred Green keeps things moving at a good clip, and the smaller-than-usual number of songs allows a ton of story to be shoehorned into the hour-long running time. The action sequences are well shot and exciting. The experiment was a successful one on all sides, and the result is one of Autry's better pictures.

The songs are:

Wanderers of the Wasteland
In Our Little Shanty of Dreams
There's Only One Love in a Lifetime
Little Old Band of Gold

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The black-and-white full frame picture generally looks quite good. The source print is nicely restored, with only a few random speckles detracting from the experience. For the most part, the picture is sharp, clear and vivid, with nice textures and an excellent range of greys. There is some distracting moire on Gene's checked shirt and some compression artifacts in quick camera pans, but on the whole this is very attractive.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio also is good, without crackle or hiss, though there is mild but unobtrusive background noise throughout. Dialogue is very crisp and clear, and the songs sound as good as is to be expected. Background music tends to be somewhat shrill, and I suspect it's all stock library cues that had already seen better days in 1940.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 4 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Heart of the Rio Grande
Production Notes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Excerpt from In Old Santa Fe
  2. Radio program
  3. Still and lobby card galleries
  4. Script excerpts
Extras Review: The Melody Ranch Theater host segment for this feature has apparently been lost, so the disc producers have substituted the comments for Gene's first film, the Ken Maynard Western In Old Santa Fe (1934). Western swing legend Pee Wee King guest stars in the host segment along with regular Pat Buttram. As a bonus, Gene's segment (about 7 minutes) from the picture is included on the disc. Not only does Gene sing, but Smiley Burnette gets a number that shows off his musical talents on accordion, harmonica, mandolin, and guitar. George 'Gabby' Hayes even makes an appearance as he spikes Maynard's punch at the square dance. A very nice extra for Autry devotees.

A Melody Ranch radio program (29m:43s) from May 14, 1940 is also included, with skits involving Gene and Shorty as well as several musical numbers. The strained methods of hawking Doublemint Gum are complete and intact for historical purists.

In support of the feature are a Jane Withers filmography, a set of production notes, an extensive set of stills (set to two songs from the picture), a gallery of the complete lobby card set, and a trailer for the companion DVD release. Not bad at all.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A particularly entertaining entry in the Autry canon, with a good transfer and the usual excellent array of extras.


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