Roy Rogers Movie: Heldorado (1946)

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The Roy Rogers movie “Heldorado” is one of our personal favorites here at Roy Rogers World.com. In “Heldorado” Roy is undeniably charming as our good-guy hero, but it is Dale Evans that really adds the fun to this movie. Dale plays Carol Randall, a feisty, somewhat brash young woman who isn’t intimidated by fast horses, bad guys, murder, or her attraction to the charming Nevada State Ranger Roy Rogers. The dialogue between Roy and Dale is often spirited and ornery, giving both Roy and Dale a chance to aggravate each other for the entertainment of the audience. For a complete synopsis of “Heldorado” please scroll down.

Partial Credits For The Movie

  • Director: William Witney
  • Roy Rogers – Nevada State Ranger Roy Rogers
  • Trigger, Roy’s palomino stallion – Trigger
  • George “Gabby” Hayes – Gabby Whittaker
  • Dale Evans – Carol Randall
  • Bob Nolan and the Sons Of The Pioneers –
    Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Hugh Farr, Karl Farr,
    Pat Brady, and Lloyd Perryman
  • Paul Harvey – G.W. Driscoll
  • Barry Mitchell – Alec Baxter

Songs In The Movie

  • “Heldorado” – Sung by cast at beginning, middle, and end of the movie
  • “Silver Stars, Purple Sage, Eyes of Blue” – Sung by Roy Rogers
  • “My Saddle Pals and I” – Sung by Roy Rogers and
    the Sons Of The Pioneers
  • “Good Neighbor” – Sung by Roy Rogers and
    Dale Evans, then by Roy in Spanish
  • “You Ain’t Heard Nuthin’ Till You Hear Him Roar” – Sung by
    Pat Brady and the rest of the Sons Of The Pioneers

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“Heldorado” Movie Synopsis

Warning! There are plot spoilers in the following synopsis.

“Heldorado” is set in Las Vegas, Nevada, and uses the backdrop of the city’s annual Helldorado celebration to its full advantage. During the celebration Las Vegas relives its history as a frontier town, giving the movie a lot of excuses to throw in some extra fun like a parade, a rodeo, a carnival at the Helldorado Village, and a fast-paced treasure hunt on horses.

One “L” or Two? – The title of the movie “Heldorado” is spelled with one “L.” However, the namesake of the movie is the real-life Helldorado (spelled with two “Ls”) celebration that was first held in Las Vegas in 1934. While watching the movie notice that all of the signs, marquees, etc. within the movie spell Helldorado with two Ls.

In “Heldorado” Roy Rogers plays Roy, a Nevada State Ranger taking a couple of days off to enjoy the Helldorado celebration in Las Vegas. He soon meets Carol Randall (played by Dale Evans), a local girl who has moved away but who has returned to Las Vegas, like Roy, for the celebration. Gabby Whittaker (played by George “Gabby” Hayes) is an organizer of Helldorado and the moment Carol arrives in town he wastes no time trying to rearrange her vacation for Helldorado’s benefit. He makes her Queen of the Helldorado, and also has her sworn in, just for fun, as a deputy sheriff. Carol is reluctant to accept her new sheriff’s badge, but lets her old friend Gabby have his way. She even lets the handsome Nevada State Ranger she just met, Roy Rogers, pin her new badge on her, and the two seem quite taken with one another.

Gabby Hayes and Dale Evans in the Roy Rogers movie Heldorado

Gabby Whittaker (played by George “Gabby” Hayes) reads from a list of activities he wants Carol Randall (played by Dale Evans) to do on her vacation.

Although Carol is at first reluctant to become a deputy sheriff, a title that was only meant to be honorary, she quickly warms to the idea when she learns she can flaunt her new badge to her advantage. When Roy starts investigating a group of racketeers passing black market $1,000 bills at the local casino, Carol uses her badge to “help” Roy with the investigation. She shows up at every turn, and Roy, who at first seemed to be a bit smitten by the outgoing, spirited Carol, soon finds her to be a burr under his saddle. She gallops after him on horseback while he’s chasing a racketeer and falls off of her horse, causing him to go back to check on her and let the racketeer get away. When she finds out there has been a murder, she doesn’t tell Roy but instead hurries to the murder scene ahead of him to do her own investigation. When Roy gets photographs of the tire tracks of a car tied to the murder he won’t let Carol see them, so she cleverly has Roy thrown into a mock jail at a carnival so she can snatch the photos from him while he’s temporarily behind bars. In the end Carol’s annoying over-exuberance pays off when she finds out where a fresh batch of black market money is waiting for the racketeers and her tip to Roy helps save the day and catch the bad guys.

The Best Part Of “Heldorado”

The best part of “Heldorado” is the pairing of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. It is the mix of these two charming superstars that really make this movie fun. Roy is perfect as our quiet, good-guy hero, working hard to catch a group of racketeers, and Dale is ideal as the overeager, plucky Carol who never gets out of his way. She’s everywhere Roy turns, and while he’s not afraid to let her get what she deserves she’s certainly not afraid to take it. After she causes him to let a racketeer get away by falling off her horse, when he realizes she’s unhurt he gallops off on Trigger leaving her on foot in a cloud of dust. Carol is undaunted. When the bad guys shut her in a refrigerator Roy lets her out, but not before asking her, “Did the light go off in there?” She helps him get the bad guys’ guns then joins in when a fight breaks out. Their dialogue is quick and snappy, and Carol lets Roy’s frequent sarcasm roll right off. “Ranger boy” (as she calls him at the Helldorado Village) might not appreciate her the way she thinks he should, but she doesn’t let that slow her down. “Heldorado” is a classic example of the movies with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans that made them so spectacularly successful all those years ago.

“Heldorado” Highlights

Warning! There are plot spoilers in the following highlights.

Roy And Dale On Horseback
Heaven knows that audiences loved to see Roy Rogers on a horse, particularly his golden palomino stallion Trigger, and “Heldorado” isn’t about to let them down. Toward the beginning of the movie there’s a classic chase scene showing Roy and Trigger galloping at breakneck speed, shooting at the bad guy ahead of them as they chase him down. This scene has added humor when Carol gets on a horse and gallops after Roy and Trigger. Roy’s chasing the bad guy because he’s a racketeer, but Carol thinks he’s chasing him because he stole her horse. Carol rides all out, cheerfully waving at Roy and calling encouragement. Roy tries to wave her back but Carol keeps on coming. It’s a funny moment that ends when Carol falls off her horse going under a tree (Roy made it under the same tree by doing an always-fun-to-watch running dismount / remount) and the two wind up in a spirited spat.

Roy Rogers talks to Dale Evans in the movie Heldorado

Roy talks to Carol (Dale Evans) after she falls off her horse.

The Rodeo
The parts of the movie at the Helldorado Rodeo have little to do with plot advancement and are mostly there for the audience’s entertainment. However, in this regard they do a good job. There are some entertaining scenes of the Grand Entry, and of Trigger rearing, bowing, and dancing for the crowd. There are a couple of scenes of Bob Nolan and Pat Brady (members of the singing group the Sons Of The Pioneers) attempting to ride saddle broncs, and of Bob Nolan bull dogging. While the cuts from the real contestants to Bob and Pat aren’t exactly seamless, it still looks like the two singers were having a good time which makes the audience enjoy the scenes, too. There’s also a pause in the action for Roy and Bob Nolan and the Sons Of The Pioneers to sing a delightful rendition of “My Saddle Pals and I.”

The Carnival
At the carnival at Helldorado Village Carol is at her annoying best. Happily munching popcorn and waiting for Roy at the village gate she greets him with a cheerful “Hiya, Ranger boy, you’re late!” before she quickly tries to get photographs of tire tracks to the murder car from him. Roy refuses to let her see the photos, so the quick-thinking Carol manages to get Roy locked up in a carnival jail where he has to stay until he pays a fine of singing a song. Carol snatches the photos from Roy as he’s behind the bars and almost gets away, but Roy insists to the “judge” that Carol sing with him. They sing the upbeat “Good Neighbor” together, then Carol finally makes her getaway with the photos while Roy is held long enough to sing the song one more time, this time is Spanish. By the time he gets out of jail Carol is quite pleased to show him she has found the car that the photographs of the tire tracks go to.

Dale Evans shows her badge to Roy Rogers

At the carnival at the Helldorado village Carol (Dale Evans) once again proudly shows off her deputy sheriff’s badge to Roy.

The Sons Of The Pioneers
The Sons Of The Pioneers don’t get a lot of time in this movie, but they’re a delight when we do get to see and hear them. They appear briefly at the beginning of the movie as they sing the title song “Heldorado” with Roy while the opening credits roll. They have a few more brief appearances until they get to sing “My Saddle Pals and I” with Roy at the rodeo, and the humorous “You Ain’t Heard Nuthin’ Till You Hear Him Roar,” led by Pat Brady in the casino just before the treasure hunt begins. Their harmonies and instrumentals remind us why they were phenomenally successful for so many years, and why the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC  designated them National Treasures. They also get to ride in the treasure hunt.

The Treasure Hunt
The treasure hunt at the end of “Heldorado” is a fun way to end the movie with a lot of action on horseback and a good, old-fashioned fist fight. As Carol races in a car to beat the main bad guy, Mr. Driscoll, to a railroad station where he plans to pick up more black market money, Roy and the Sons Of The Pioneers are riding in a treasure hunt on horseback. The Sons Of The Pioneers are in the treasure hunt for the fun of it and the prize money, but Roy is riding in it to keep his eye on two of the racketeers. The two racketeers are riding in the treasure hunt as a way to lure Roy off on his own and kill him. Gabby, who isn’t entered in the treasure hunt, gallops after Roy to tell him to meet Carol at the railroad station. It’s all a fun chase that ends with an entertaining fight scene with Roy, Carol, and the bad guys in the back of the railroad station, with Gabby and the Sons Of The Pioneer showing up to help out, too.

Roy Rogers lets Dale Evans out of a refrigerator in the movie Heldorado

Roy lets Carol (Dale Evans) out of a refrigerator in the back of a railroad station.

Gabby Hayes
The actor George “Gabby” Hayes played in so many Roy Rogers movies it’s easy to take him for granted. Like so many other films with Roy, in “Heldorado” he plays a crusty, ornery old-timer (who, in reality, was a spry 61 years young when he made “Heldorado”). He’s at his best here, providing several grins throughout the movie, tricking the Sons Of The Pioneers into riding to the railroad station during the treasure hunt, and helping Roy out just in time at the end. It is notable that Gabby Hayes made 41 movies with Roy Rogers, the last of which was “Heldorado.”

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