» » Whirlwind (1951)

Whirlwind (1951) Online

Whirlwind (1951) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Western
Year :
Directror :
John English
Cast :
Gene Autry,Champion,Gail Davis
Writer :
Norman S. Hall
Type :
Time :
1h 10min
Rating :
Whirlwind (1951) Online

Postal Inspector Gene Autry (Gene Autry)and Smiley Burnette (Smiley Burnette)arrive in Red Bluff to investigate a series of mail robberies. Gene becomes suspicious of Big Jim Lattimer (Thurston Hall), uncle of Elaine Lassiter (Gail Davis) after Smiley finds burned fragments of U.S. Postal Bonds, following a bank holdup, on the Lassiter ranch.
Complete credited cast:
Gene Autry Gene Autry - Gene Autry - aka The Whirlwind
Champion Champion - Champ - Gene's Horse
Gail Davis Gail Davis - Elaine Lassiter
Thurston Hall Thurston Hall - Big Jim Lassiter
Harry Lauter Harry Lauter - Wade Trimble
Dick Curtis Dick Curtis - Lon Kramer
Harry Harvey Harry Harvey - Sheriff Barlow
Gregg Barton Gregg Barton - Bill Trask
Smiley Burnette Smiley Burnette - Smiley Burnette

User reviews



This action-filled western has Gene playing a postal inspector investigating a gang empire headed by the nefarious Big Jim Lassiter (veteran character actor, Thurston Hall) who help finance their operations by robbing the mail stage. Gene poses as a robber known as the Whirlwind because he moves surreptitiously across the prairie like a dust devil. Gene hooks up with a fellow undercover postal inspector who turns out to be Smiley Burnette. It's a treat for fans to see the two together in the twilight years of the Saturday matinée cowboys. The romantic duties are performed this time around by the captivating lady from Arkansas and TV's Annie Oakley, Gail Davis, playing Elaine Lassiter, niece of Big Jim, who took her in following the mysterious death of her father, Big Jim's brother. In the process of getting the goods on Big Jim, Gene and Smiley tangle with some of the toughest of the budget western badmen including the likes of the unflappable Dick Curtis who was also adept at slapstick comedy. Playing henchman Lon Kramer, Dick and Smiley have a grand old time, especially in their first encounter where Smiley whips Lon and his buddies in a fisticuffs filled with belly laughs. Harry Harvey as the crooked sheriff, Harry Lauter as a shyster attorney, and a bevy of bad guys, including Bud Osborne and Kenne Duncan, make for a delightful outing. Stan Jones, who wrote the title song, has a bit part. A talented singer/songwriter and member of the classic Sons of the Pioneers, Stan is today best remembered for penning the oft-recorded "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Also in the music department, Gene and Smiley harmonize beautifully on the novelty ditty "Twiddle O'Twill," co-written by Gene with help from Fred Rose who is credited with discovering Hank Williams Sr.

A note of interest, Gene shows off his skill as a telegrapher, a job he was doing in Oklahoma when discovered by Will Rogers.


For a movie that would have been seen only at the drive-in, this is a first-rate production. Gene is "Gene," and that is a good thing, but Smiley Burnette never looked or sounded better, and the lovely Gail Davis gives a hint of the luminescent "Annie Oakley" whom we (those of us old enough to remember) would come to love in just 5 years. The story is believable, the dialog is snappy, and the film moves along at a good pace. The bad guys are not just slugs; they are interesting in their own right. The scene where Smiley comes to the rescue of Gene is priceless. The songs are not exceptional, but it is easy to see why Gene was the star that he was. It's a winner.


The term 'whirlwind' serves double duty in this entertaining Gene Autry flick, first as the title song, and then as the alter-ego of Autry's character, a government postal inspector. It was a little disconcerting to see Gene don an outlaw's mask in the opening scene to rob the Tucson stagecoach of it's registered mail pouch. We're let in on Gene's clever ruse a few moments later, when the real bandits, working for Big Jim Lassiter (Thurston Hall) attempt to rob the same stagecoach. Quickly following up, Gene returns the goods shortly after to the amazement of the stage drivers, as Gene explains - "Some people call me The Whirlwind".

Smiley Burnette joins Gene once again, this time working undercover as a mail order veterinarian; his wagon reads the 'Ailin' Animal Clinic'. Smiley proves to be quite the tough guy in the early going, managing to take on four or five Lassiter henchmen while Gene has his hands full with the Red Valley prosecuting attorney Wade Kimball (Harry Lauter). His fight scene is quite cleverly staged, as the bad guys continually miss their opportunity to bring him down, while Smiley puts a nearby water trough to good advantage.

Also on hand is pretty Gail Davis as Laine Lassiter, niece of the main villain. Her portrayal starts out as almost a heel role, but she warms up to Gene's serenading throughout the story. He offers a catchy little ditty in the early going, but if you listen to the words, they seem to be a little puzzling - "There ain't no lady gonna break my heart, as long as I have my horse". I had to stop and think about that a while.

The story winds up being pretty standard stuff if you've seen any number of Autry films, or any assortment of B Westerns altogether. Big Jim Lassiter had his own brother killed to take over his estate, and his attempt to snooker Gene into cashing in on a fifty thousand dollar payday just wasn't going to work. When it ended, I was as puzzled by the closing scene as Gail Davis seemed to be. As Gene rides away, she reacts to a chorus of singers chiming in on the 'Whirlwind' song, even though there's no one else around. Maybe it was one of those dust devils.


Great opening hook—why is Gene robbing a stage, of all things. Fine Autry entry that goes beyond programmer level. The plot's pretty complex as Gene maneuvers against Big Jim Lassiter (A-movie actor Hall) whose got plenty of tricks up his own sleeve. Postal agent Gene's trying to foil the kingpin's outlaw operation. Frankly, I had trouble following all the twists, but that's okay since that's not why I tune in anyway. I can see why Gene fell for personality gal Gail Davis: she's perfect for an outdoor western, and he would soon move her into her own series, Annie Oakley (1954-57). Burnette gets a few hijinks but nothing buffoonish.

In fact both customary humor and musical interludes are minimal in this later entry (1951). Looks like Gene, the producer, was trying to alter the usual formula. Still, if memory serves, the novelty tune Twiddle O'Twill made the charts of the time. It's certainly catchy. There's also some expected hard riding, a heckuva street brawl, and a showy stage crack-up, for action fans. On the other hand, I could have done without Gene's corny Whirlwind aspect, but that's a minor feature. All in all, it's still a solid 70-minutes of matinée entertainment, courtesy Autry Productions.

An "8" on the matinée scale.
Steel balls

Steel balls

Whirlwind casts Gene Autry as a member of the postal police who with sidekick Smiley Burnette is after Thurston Hall who is the local Ben Cartwright in his area, but who is also involved in a lot of criminal enterprises. Robbing the US mail will always get the federal government's interest.

Autry is going to need all the help he can get even if it is Smiley Burnette. Hall has the law sewed up nice in his pocket with county attorney Harry Lauter and sheriff Harry Harvey on the pad. In fact Lauter has some nasty dirt on Hall himself.

Turns out his one weakness is his niece Gail Davis who Gene charms with a bit of cowboy music. It also turns out that Hall has done her the dirtiest of all.

Gene's fans will be pleased.