Barnyard Follies is a 1940 Republic Pictures musical B movie directed by Frank McDonald with music directed by Cy Feuer and dance choreography by Josephine Earl. Set in the rural American West, a small-town orphanage struggles to become self-supporting through its 4-H Club projects. The screenplay, written by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan, is based on a story concept by Robert T. Shannon. Released 6 October 1940, the film stars Mary Lee, Harry Cheshire, Rufe Davis, June Storey, Ralph Bowman, Joan Woodbury, Jed Prouty, Victor Kilian, and Isabel Randolph.
Original 1940 Lobby Card
|Directed by||Frank McDonald|
|Produced by||Armand Schaefer|
Al Wilson, production manager
|Screenplay by||Dorrell McGowan|
Stuart E. McGowan
|Story by||Robert T. Shannon|
|Music by||Cy Feuer, music director|
William Lava (uncredited)
Paul Sawtell (uncredited)
Josephine Earl, choreographer
|Edited by||Murray Seldeen, supervising editor|
Charles Craft, film editor
|Distributed by||Republic Pictures|
|6 October 1940|
Pappy Cheshire, his assistant Louise Dale, and farmhand Bucksaw Beechwood manage an orphanage near the village of Farmdale. Pappy has loaned $5000 of community provided orphanage funding to the orphans for their new 4-H Club projects so the orphanage will become self-supporting. Of the opinion this is a ridiculous idea, community leaders Hiram Crabtree, Sam Spitz, and Mrs. Uppington pressure Pappy to return the money within 30 days.
Hearing on the radio that Pappy's long lost brother, Henry, died and left Pappy $20,000, Bubbles Martin, one of the teenage orphan girls, tells Pappy about his good fortune, part of which turns out to be a nightclub, The Peep Inn, that Pappy and Bubbles visit in the city. Pappy plans to close the place, sell the building, and use the proceeds for the orphanage. He approaches The Peep Inn's group of musicians, girl dancers, and their director, Jeff Hill, to settle their contract at 50 cents on the dollar for their release. The entertainers refuse the offer and Pappy insists they get on the train and come to Farmdale to work for him for the remainder of their contract.
When Jeff Hill and troupe arrive at the orphanage, Jeff is immediately smitten with Louise but she gives him the cold shoulder. Receiving a check for only $900 from his brother's estate after taxes and expenses, Pappy is unable to pay the community back. Jeff wants to put on a show, "The Barnyard Follies", to earn enough money to solve the financial problem but Dolly and the other girl dancers quit when they learn of the plan. Bubbles gets the orphans to do the show with the help of Jeff.
The Fire Inspector prevents the show from taking place. Under the pressure of Hiram and Sam, Pappy Cheshire leaves the orphanage. When the haystack goes up in flames the Fire Department comes. As the Fire Department begins to leave, one of the fire trucks gets stuck on the bridge in the driveway at the orphanage. With the entire Fire Department now at the orphanage waiting for the fire truck to be freed, the Mayor of Farmdale allows the show to proceed. Pappy returns when he hears on the radio that the orphan's 4-H Club animals are going to be auctioned off. Mrs. Uppington accuses Hiram Crabtree and Sam Spitz of political graft as their motive for driving Pappy Cheshire to leave. Hiram and Sam flee the scene. All ends well and Jeff and Louise are arm in arm by the end of the movie.
Lots of fun, good story, great music and dancing, enjoyable by people of all ages.
Barnyard Follies cast as presented in the screen credits:
- Mary Lee (Mary Lee Wooters) as Bubbles Martin
- Rufe Davis (Rufus Davidson) as Bucksaw Beechwood
- June Storey as Louise Dale
- Jed Prouty as Sam Spitz
- Victor Kilian as Hiram Crabtree
- Joan Woodbury as Dolly
- "Alfalfa" Switzer (Carl Switzer) as Alfalfa
- Robert Homans as Fire Inspector
- Dorothy Harrison as Queen of Dairyland
and Radio's Popular Entertainers
- "Pappy" Cheshire (Harry Cheshire) as Pappy Cheshire
- The Cackle Sisters (Mary Jane and Carolyn DeZurik, a.k.a. The DeZurik Sisters) as The Cackle Sisters
- Jim Jeffries (James J. Jeffries) as Jimmy Jeffries, the radio announcer and auctioneer
- The Kidoodlers (Bill Kearns, Paul Cordner, Bob Remington, and Ed Lewis) as The Kidoodlers
- Ralph Bowman (a.k.a. John Archer) as Jeff Hill
- Isabel Randolph as Mrs. Uppington ("Uppy")
Barnyard Follies presents Mary Lee Wooters at age fifteen in her first leading role, her eighth screen appearance. Starting out at age thirteen in 1938 as a vocalist with the Ted Weems Orchestra, her initial screen appearance was in early 1939 at Warner Brothers in Nancy Drew... Reporter. Mary Lee's second screen appearance came in late 1939 in South of the Border at Republic Pictures where she went on to appear in a total of 21 films, including nine Gene Autry films, two Roy Rogers films, seven other feature films, and three shorts. In her first five Autry films she appeared as "Patsy", the younger sister of June Storey's character. However, Barnyard Follies would be Mary Lee's last screen appearance with June Storey who began to diversify into other film genres. Mary Lee's last screen appearance was with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in Republic Pictures' Song of Nevada (5 August 1944) after which she did some further work with Ted Weems.
In her first screen appearance, eleven year old Norma Jean Wooters (uncredited) as one of the orphan girls is first seen at 19:40 where she greets Pappy Cheshire as he walks into the barn, pats her on the head, and says "Hello Honey". Next, she is found in the haystack scene with Bucksaw (Rufe Davis). Also visible in other scenes, she is eventually identified at 40:34 as "Buckshot" by Jeff Hill (Ralph Bowman). A few years later, at age thirteen as "Buckshot McBride" in The Fighting Buckaroo (1 February 1943), she helps out Ernest Tubb with his composition "Ridin' That Dusty Trail" as Kay Harris rides along with them. Norma Jean Wooters married Richard Pierson Tibbs in 1948 and soon became known as "Buckie Tibbs" working with Tennessee Ernie Ford on Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree radio and television shows and as "Bucky Tibbs" on Capitol record labels. In a Keystone Press photo dated 4 April 1953, Buckie Tibbs is seen with Tennessee Ernie and the Cowgirls at a Battersea Pleasure Gardens Chuckwagon Party in London, England. Divorced from Tibbs, Norma Jean married Thomas Elman Mitchell in September 1953. Norma Jean was the younger sister of Mary Lee Wooters.
Rufe Davis appeared in 14 of the Three Mesquiteers series films at Republic Pictures during the early 1940s. He took his comedy act on tour with the Gene Autry road show during the late 1940s into the 1950s and from 1963 through early 1970 was a regular cast member in the CBS television series Petticoat Junction.
Active in 4-H and the 1940 Wisconsin Dairy Queen, Dorothy Harrison was from Oregon, Wisconsin. Where she is seen cranking the cream separator at 3:06, on the wall to the right of the door is a poster that says "VOTE FOR DOROTHY HARRISON - OUR 4H CLUB CANDIDATE FOR QUEEN OF DAIRYLAND". In the Big Boy Blues scene Dorothy Harrison is seen twirling her baton and riding on the haywagon.
Beginning in 1936, Mary Jane and Carolyn DeZurik appeared regularly in Chicago on the WLS National Barn Dance radio program under contract as The DeZurik Sisters. In late 1938, they recorded six sides for the American Record Corporation which issued on the Conqueror and Vocalion record labels as the DeZurik Sisters. On the Purina Mills Checkerboard Time radio show, in Barnyard Follies, at the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and elsewhere they were known as The Cackle Sisters.
Isabel Randolph is remembered for her character role as "Mrs. Uppington" in the Fibber McGee and Molly radio series from 1936 through 1943 which she carried over to four films from 1940 through 1943. In Barnyard Follies she is identified as "Uppy" by Pappy Cheshire (Harry Cheshire) at 05:25 and as "Mrs. Uppington" by Louise Dale (June Storey) at 16:34.
Seen with the basket of laundry in Barnyard follies, Lillian Randolph (uncredited) also appeared in the opening scene at 3:25. Born Castello Randolph in 1898, she came to Hollywood in 1934 from WXYZ radio Detroit and enjoyed a long career in motion pictures, radio, and television as a character actor.
The role of the Mayor of Farmdale is played by actor and writer Robert McKenzie (uncredited) who appeared in more than 300 films. Married to actress Eva Heazlitt McKenzie, their two daughters and a niece were also actors. We remember their youngest daughter Fay McKenzie as the leading lady in five Gene Autry films from October 1941 through April 1942.
Barnyard Follies drew on cast members who had been recently dropped from Hal Roach's Our Gang series of comedy shorts. Most prominent in the film was Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer where he demonstrates his ability to yodel off-key.
Darwood Kaye (uncredited), known for his role of Waldo from 1937 into 1940 in the Our Gang series, is identified as "Waldo" by Pappy Cheshire (Harry Cheshire) at 4:50. He is found in a number of scenes in Barnyard Follies with his trademark large, round, black horn-rimmed spectacles. Born Darwood Kenneth Smith in 1929, after graduating from Hollywood High School in 1946 he served in the army, then went on to La Sierra University, and eventually became a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. His life story is told in the biography "Finding Waldo".
Eugene "Porky" Lee (uncredited) from Our Gang, seen sitting between Mary Lee and Darwood Kaye at 16:15, is identified by Jeff Hill (Ralph Bowman) at 38:55. By early 1939 Lee had outgrown his "Porky" role in the Our Gang series. Later known as Eugene Gordon Lee, he became an alternative school teacher at Broomfield High School in Colorado.
The dog, Lucenay's Peter (uncredited), seen in Barnyard Follies was the second generation "Pete the Pup" from Hal Roach's Our Gang series and is identified in the haystack scene at 25:25 as "Pete" by Bubbles (Mary Lee). Born 6 September 1929, owned and trained by Harry S. Lucenay (1887-1944), Lucenay's Peter was AKC and UKC registered as an American Pit Bull Terrier and had a ring painted around his left eye. Lucenay's first generation "Pete the Pup", named Pal the Wonder Dog, with a natural ring around his right eye, debuted as "Tige" in 1925 in the Buster Brown two-reeler series, later moving to the Our Gang series, and died in 1930 of apparent poisoning. With the loss of Pal the Wonder Dog, Lucenay's Peter debuted in Pups is Pups (1930). His last Our Gang appearance was in The Pooch (1932) after which time various other unrelated dogs were used in the series as a result of Lucenay and Roach having parted ways. Lucenary's Peter died of old age in 1946. Theodore Lucenay (1925-2004), son of Harry, remembered Pete in an interview in 2001 for the Waco Tribune-Herald: "He was a gentle, playful and warm dog. He would sleep at the foot of my bed. He was just the regular family dog. I really miss him."
It is possible that there are other Our Gang cast members in Barnyard Follies yet to be identified.
On the Original 1940 Lobby Card in the infobox above we see at the left along the wall The Cackle Sisters, Dorothy Harrison with baton, Norma Jean Wooters in front of the horse collar hanging on the wall, in the center Mary Lee wearing dark slacks, to the right June Storey and Ralph Bowman, and The Kidoodlers at the far right.
Barnyard Follies soundtrack musical selections in order of occurrence in the film. The time following the title of a selection indicates the location of the selection in the film.
- Medley: Barnyard Holiday 0:59 (Fred Rose and Johnny Marvin) - Mary Lee / Beautiful Baby 1:49 (Charlotte Salisbury) - The Cackle Sisters / Barnyard Holiday 2:47 - Mary Lee
- I'd Love to Be a Cowboy (but I'm Afraid of Cows) 26:41 (Darl MacBoyle, C. VanNess, and Bobby Gregory) - The Kidoodlers
- Home on the Range 28:56 (lyrics Brewster M. Higley - music Daniel E. Kelley) - The Kidoodlers, Mary Lee, and the orphan children
- Lollipop Lane 31:03 (Fred Rose and Johnny Marvin) - Mary Lee with an assist by Alfalfa on the yodel
- Big Boy Blues 37:02 (Fred Rose and Johnny Marvin) - Mary Lee and The Cackle Sisters - Dorothy Harrison, Queen of Dairyland, rides along on the hay wagon
- Mama Don't Allow It 51:09 (Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport) - Rufe Davis
- To the Concert We Will Go 55:19 - The Kidoodlers
- Poppin' the Corn 58:08 (lyrics Sol Meyer, music Jule Styne) - Mary Lee, The Cackle Sisters, and the orphan girls
- Barnyard Holiday 1:06:48 (Fred Rose and Johnny Marvin) - Mary Lee and cast
Runtime: 1:08:29 (68 min, 29 sec)
Sound system: RCA mono
Format: 35mm, 1.37:1, black and white
Laboratory: Consolidated Film Industries, Hollywood, California
Studio: Republic Pictures, Hollywood, California
- FindAGrave, Dorrell McGowan, <https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=41875375> (Click on the link to view.)
- FindAGrave, Stuart Edward McGowan, <https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=85913700> (Click on the link to view.)
- Ted Weems and His Orchestra with Vocal Chorus by Mary Lee and Elmo Tanner, Decca 2829B, BACK TO SMOKEY MOUNTAIN, recorded 5 October 1939, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWVa1Zjakd0> (Click on the link to listen.)
- Ernest Tubb and Norma Jean Wooters, "Ridin' That Dusty Trail" from The Fighting Buckaroo, Columbia Pictures, 1943, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nElIMOFEVEQ> (Click on the link to listen.)
- IMDb, Kay Harris, <https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0364929/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t2> (Click on the link to view.)
- Obscure Actresses, Kay Harris,<https://obscureactresses.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/kay-harris/> (Click on the link to view.)
- Find A Grave, Katherine Harris Bennett, <https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Bennett&GSfn=Katherine&GSbyrel=all&GSdy=1971&GSdyrel=in&GSob=n&GRid=137864990&df=all&> (Click on the link yo view.)
- FamilySearch, California, County Marriages, 1850-1952, Norma Jean Wooters and Richard Pierson Tibbs, <https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-29957-21981-82?cc=1804002> (Click on the link to view image.)
- Tennessee Ernie Ford and Buckie Tibbs, "You'd Be Surprised", track 26, Jasmine [UK] JACMCD 3518 Tennesse Ernie Meets The Girls, from a Hometown Jamboree transcription circa early to mid 1950s, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr6uPzLDfl8> (Click on the link to listen.)
- Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree Souvenir Album, circa 1953
- Tennessee Ernie Ford with Bucky Tibbs and Cliffie Stone's Orchestra, "Hambone", Capitol mx 9776, issue 2017, recorded circa February 1952, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezu84U3Hr8Q> (Click on the link to listen.)
- FamilySearch, California, County Marriages, 1850-1952, Norma Jean (Wooters) Tibbs and Thomas Elman Mitchell, <https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-29947-51598-66?cc=1804002> (Click on the link to view image.)
- Find A Grave, Dorothy L. Harrison Sirny, <https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/133618456> (Click on the link to view.)
- Abrams, Steven and Tyrone Settlemier, The Online Discographical Project, DeZurik Sisters, Conqueror 9251, 9252, 9253,<http://www.78discography.com/Conq9000.htm> (Click on the link to view.)
- Abrams, Steven and Tyrone Settlemier, The Online Discographical Project, DeZurik Sisters, Vocalion 4616, 4704, 4781,<http://78discography.com/VOC4500.htm> (Click on the link to view.)
- IMDb, Isabel Randolph, Biography, <https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0709902/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm> (Click on the link to view.)
- IMDb, Isabel Randolph, Filmography, <https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0709902/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1> (Click on the link to view.)
- IMDb, Robert McKenzie, Biography, <https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0571602/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm> (Click on the link to view.)
- Western Clippings, Mike Fitzgerald, An Interview with Fay McKenzie, <http://www.westernclippings.com/interview/faymckenzie_interview.shtml> (Click on the link to view.)
- Darwood Smith, W'46 Poinsettia, Hollywood High School, winter 1946, p. 9, bottom row, 4th from left, http://www.classmates.com/siteui/yearbooks/132983?page=11 (Click on the link to view.)
- Smith, David B., "Finding Waldo", Pacific Press Publishing Association, Nampa, Idaho, 2009
- Lucenay's Peter, UKC 022-558, APBT-Online, <http://www.apbt.online-pedigrees.com/modules.php?name=Public&file=printPedigree&dog_id=67627> (Click on the link to view.)
- Minor, Christina, "Pooch Pete still alive to fans of Our Gang", Waco Tribune-Herald, Waco, Texas, 9 April 2001, <http://nokillnow.com/PitBullPetey.html> (Click on the link and scroll down the page to view the article by Christina Minor. The article fails to make the distinction between Lucenay's Peter and the first generation Pete the Pup.)