The Big Sombrero (film)

The Big Sombrero is a 1949 American Western film directed by Frank McDonald and starring Gene Autry, Elena Verdugo, and Stephen Dunne. Written by Olive Cooper, the film is about a singing cowboy hired as foreman of the Big Sombrero ranch by a man working against the interests of the ranch's absentee owner and workers.[1]

The Big Sombrero
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank McDonald
Produced byArmand Schaefer
Written byOlive Cooper
Music by
CinematographyWilliam Bradford
Edited byHenry Batista
Gene Autry Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 29, 1949 (1949-01-29) (U.S.)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States


Singing cowboy Gene Autry (Gene Autry) is out of work and looking for a job. After pawning his guitar, he meets former rodeo sharpshooter Angie Burke (Vera Marshe), who works for wealthy ranch owner Estrellita Estrada (Elena Verdugo). Angie suggests that Gene ride across the border to El Sombrero Grande, Estrellita's ranch. Gene learns that the ranch is managed by James Garland (Stephen Dunne), an acquaintance from their days with Monahan's Wild West Show. Gene heads south into Mexico.

As Gene approaches the ranch, he comes across a fight between Garland and the rancheros, who rent part of the land. Garland is in the process of forcing them off the property. Gene stops Garland from shooting the unarmed men. Garland offers Gene the job of ranch foreman and tells him that he plans to marry Estrellita. On the way back to the ranch, Gene offers a ride to Don Luis Alvarado (William Edmunds), Estrellita's godfather. Don Luis has been hired to replace Felipe Gonzales (Martin Garralaga), who has worked on the ranch all his life. Gene does not want to displace Felipe, but he decides to accept the job in order to help the rancheros, who are led by Juan Vazcaro. Gene hires Felipe as his translator.

Gene travels back to the United States planning to bring Estrellita back to her ranch in Mexico. Angie, who has been accompanying Estrellita in America, opposes Gene's plan, but Gene and Don Luis are able to kidnap Estrellita and drive her back to El Sombrero Grande. Meanwhile, Garland plots to sell the ranch to Ben McBride (Gene Roth). McBride pressures Garland to get rid of the rancheros before they can sell their cattle and pay their back rent. When gene learns of the plot, he secretly organizes a cattle drive with the rancheros. As Gene and Juan ride to a meeting of the rancheros, they are shot at by one of Garland's men. Gene and Juan capture him and then learn that the other rancheros are under attack.

Although the rancheros are able to fight off Garland's men, a young boy named Tico accidentally reveals to Garland the plans for Gene's cattle drive. Meanwhile, Gene encourages Estrellita to take an interest in her ranch, but she is still eager to return to the United States. After the rancheros leave on the cattle drive, Garland and McBride ambush them at a mountain pass. During the gunfight, the young boy Tico is killed. The rancheros bring the boy's body back to the ranch. Garland professes his innocence, but Estrellita now knows his real intentions and orders him to leave the country. She then asks Gene to help her learn to care for the ranch. Sometime later, after Estrellita absolves the rancheros' debts, Gene leaves Mexico, but promises to return.



Filming locations


  • "You Belong to My Heart" (Augustin Lara, Ray Gilbert) by Gene Autry
  • "La Golondrina" (N. Serredell, Teddy Powell) by Elena Verdugo (dancing)
  • "Rancho Pillow" (Allie Rubel, Charles Newman) by Gene Autry
  • "My Adobe Hacienda" (Louise Massey, Lee Penny) by Gene Autry
  • "Goodbye to Old Mexico" (Dwight Butcher, Billy Johnson, James Brockman) by Gene Autry
  • "I'm Thankful for Small Favors" (Smiley Burnette) by Gene Autry
  • "Oh, My Darlin' Clementine" (Arrangement by Percy Montrose) by Gene Autry
  • "Trail to Mexico" (Johnny Lange, Lew Porter) by Gene Autry[5]


  1. "The Big Sombrero". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  2. "Full cast and crew for The Big Sombrero". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  3. Rancho Maria and Sable Ranch
  4. "Locations for The Big Sombrero". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  5. "Soundtracks for The Big Sombrero". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
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