Pistol Packin’ Mama
Cast: Ruth Terry, Robert Livingston, Wally Vernon, Jack LaRue, Kirk Alyn, Eddie Parker, Helen Talbot, The King Cole Trio
Director: Frank Woodruff
While World War II was still raging in Europe in 1943, Frank Woodruff was directing the musical western, Pistol Packin’ Mama in America.
According to Eric Brightwell’s blog post, Women of the Western, he notes that although many of these films of the 1940s were set in the West, they were not considered Westerns, but rather spoofs or just musicals set in the West.
Two gamblers, played by Robert Livingston and Wally Vernon, set out to gamble across the country to earn the money necessary to run each of their casinos. They head to Vegas, dupe the casino and win an enormous amount of money, which enables them to head back to New York to open their casino. Meanwhile, the pretty but tough lady, played by Ruth Terry, who owns the Vegas casino, tracks them down with the intent to turn the tables back into her favor.
Crime, gambling, mobs, gangs, cheating, guns and songs are the ingredients that make up this film. The title song in the film was composed by Al Dexter and sung by Ruth Terry. It became a #1 hit single for The Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby. Lightning struck a second time when Al Dexter released the song and his version also went to #1 on the charts.
In 1944 Frank Woodruff directed his last feature film, the romance musical 'Lady, Lets Dance.' He went on to work in television as a director and producer.
Tile #257 on the Studio City Walk of Fame
From Marc Wanamaker's upcoming book:
Crime feature film released 12/15/43.
Ruth Terry plays Sally Benson, a Nevada casino owner who is cheated out of her money by Nick Winner (Robert Livingston) a gambler just passin' through. He then goes to New York and opens a night club and gambling hall. While he is out of town Sally gets a job there. When he returns and finds her there he tries to fire her. Instead she cons him into cutting her marked cards for his club and wins. But she helps Nick by fending off a gangster (Jack LaRue) and his mob who were out to get Winner.