One thing you need to keep in mind when you’re watching a Canova flick is that the comedy material is frequently as corny as
Hayride allows Canova to warble five songs (including the politically incorrect Shortnin’ Bread), one of which is the old standard Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey and the way this number is staged is kind of amusing. Judy can’t remember which studio that Lane and McKay are affiliated with so she has a cab driver take her around to the various independent studios (of which, let’s just say, there are a lot) until she arrives at one that’s waiting for a female singer to arrive and record a number for an actress (an unbilled Christine McIntyre) to lip-synch to in a western. What tickled me about this is that McIntyre, an ingénue who had a lengthy career in both two-reelers and B-westerns, was no slouch as a vocalist—as anyone who’s seen the Three Stooges shorts Micro-Phonies (1945) or Squareheads of the Round Table (1948) will readily attest. That was one of the main pleasures I got in watching Hayride, seeing a lot of players from the Columbia shorts and serials including Minerva Urecal (as Judy’s ma), Matt Willis (Judy’s shotgun-totin’ bro), Ernie Adams, Lane Chandler, Fred Graham, Russell Hicks, Bud Jamison (as a doorman), Eddie Kane, Jack Rice, Gene Roth and (though she’s not credited at the IMDb entry for Hayride), Symona Boniface.
I experienced a couple of moments of déjà vu while watching this entertaining programmer last night—the main one being that the plot seemed awfully familiar, and I thought for a brief moment that I had seen it before. As it turns out, Judy’s 1940 Republic romp Scatterbrain features a similar premise (Judy is mistaken for an actress and is whisked out to Hollywood) and though I haven’t seen that movie I did listen to an adaptation of it via an Old Gold Comedy Theater radio broadcast (dated April 29, 1945 and hosted by Harold Lloyd) a few years back. (It’s possible that I may have seen Scatterbrain in that syndicated Republic films package I mentioned earlier, but I honestly can’t recall.) The other instance was an amusing gag that occurs at the start of the film: Judy’s just purchased a sort of rooming house/kozy kabin franchise for her Uncle Lem (Andy Clyde look-a-like Walter Baldwin) and Aunt Hepzibah (Jessie Arnold), and as she’s getting ready to get on the train to return home to her mom and brother, her conversation with her aunt and uncle keeps getting interrupted by a polite gentleman who first asks where the water cooler is located…and then continues to inquire if he can get another glass of water.
Finally Judy asks him: “Say…are you drinkin’ all that water?” “Oh, no, mum…I didn’t want to bother anybody but…my cabin’s on fire…” is the man’s reply. It’s a gag older than the hills and then some, and its best showcase is in the 1949 Abbott & Costello comedy Africa Screams, with the incomparable Joe Besser delivering the punch line (“Ooooooh, my tent’s on FIRE!”) The director of Louisiana Hayride, Charles Barton, also helmed Screams and I’ll bet dollars to donuts he brought that little chestnut along for the ride.