Sandwiched in between the numerous musical numbers, the Gabby Whittaker and Madden rodeo's are competing for bookings. When Gabby gets a date in Albuquerque, Madden has his man destroy his equipment. Roy finds a broken rawhide rope at the scene and uses it to bring Madden to justice.
Roy Rogers ... Roy Rogers
Trigger ... Trigger, the Smartest Horse in the Movies
George 'Gabby' Hayes ... Gabby Whittaker
Dale Evans ... Marjorie Brooks
Lloyd Corrigan ... Marty Maizely
Tom Keene ... Frank Madden (as Richard Powers)
Claire Du Brey ... Rosie McGurk
Arthur Loft ... Bill Wetherbee
Roy Barcroft ... Ken Ferguson
Lucien Littlefield ... The Judge
Sam Flint ... Sheriff
Bob Nolan ... Bob (leader, Sons of the Pioneers)
Sons of the Pioneers ... Musicians
In Lights of Old Santa Fe, Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers are busy trying to save a wild west show that is owned by Dale Evans and run by Gabby Hayes.
Dale's an eastern girl who inherited the show from her father and of late it's gone to seed. She's gotten two good offers from Tom Keene, one to buy the show, the other a proposal of marriage. Keene's a rival owner and he's determined to get the show one way or another.
Of course all that doesn't sit well with Roy who smells a rat and in these films, Roy's nose is unerring.
The highlight of the film is when Keene challenges Rogers to a chariot race. Not as silly as it sounds because the chariots are part of the show. The two of them go at each other worthy of Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston. Of course Heston and Boyd were working in a film with a slightly bigger budget.
Roy and Dale do make some pretty music together and even Gabby gets to warble a verse from the title song.
"Lights of Old Santa Fe" presents Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in a modern Western setting with a host of musical numbers and rodeo intrigue in the forefront. Dale's character Marjorie Brooks owns the Brooks International Rodeo, although with only one major booking, the business is on the brink of financial ruin. As unscrupulous rival Frank Madden attempts to take over the rodeo and marry Marjorie to seal the deal, it's up to Roy and Gabby Whittaker (Gabby Hayes) to uncover the scheme and give the Brooks name credibility once again.
Roy and Dale make a wonderful couple on screen and their charm and charisma are evident in the songs they do together, including the title song. Then there's a double dose of an uncharacteristic tune for a Western named "The Cowpoke Polka". But don't ask Gabby to take in a ballet as he's invited to do in the early part of the film - "I'd just as soon slide down a razor blade"!
Trigger gets top billing in the film as "The Smartest Horse in the Movies", but he doesn't have much to do here, although he does warn Roy and the Pioneers of trouble in camp when he breaks away from a Madden henchman named Ferguson (Roy Barcroft). The rawhide lariat that Trigger snaps proves to be the undoing of the whole rodeo scheme when Roy traces it's ownership back to Ferguson and his employer.
Roy and Dale first appeared in a film together in "The Cowboy and the Senorita" in 1944, followed soon after by this one. In all, they performed together in easily two dozen films, along with their hit TV series in the early 1950's. For anyone interested in a film representative of their engaging warmth and charm, "Lights of Old Santa Fe" is a good start.
"Lights of Old Santa Fe" is pretty good light entertainment from Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, and Trigger. There is perhaps a little less plot than usual, but on the other hand, there is more humor and singing than usual, and it makes you feel right at home with Roy and his friends.
The story revolves around two competing rodeo shows, one run by Hayes, and the other owned by a slippery character played by Tom Keene, with Dale's character getting caught in the middle of the rivalry. The setup provides enough material for a light story and for the variety entertainment. Lloyd Corrigan, playing a radio personality, also joins in by lending his array of voices to a couple of entertaining scenes.
For the most part, this follows the usual formula, and most Roy Rogers fans won't be disappointed by this one.