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Keep 'Em Rolling

Keep 'Em Rolling(1934)


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Keep 'Em Rolling (1934)

Walter Huston brought his customary intensity and realistic acting style to RKO's Keep 'Em Rolling (1934), a World War I-era tale of a soldier and his beloved horse. Huston plays Sergeant Benny Walsh of Fort Myer, Virginia, who is demoted to private after a drunken barroom brawl and is placed in the horse battery. There he takes on the job of breaking a beautiful, spirited stallion who is named Rodney by the pretty daughter (Frances Dee) of Walsh's commanding officer (Frank Conroy).

After transforming Rodney into a trusty steed, Walsh is reinstated as a sergeant, but reassigned and separated from the horse to whom he has become so attached. Walsh goes on an extended bender that is halted only when he and Rodney are reunited. As World War I begins, master and horse are sent overseas, where both display heroism and Rodney saves Walsh's life. Further trials await the pair years later when they return to the States and are once again separated, and the aging Rodney is threatened with expulsion from the service and even death. Interceding in the horse's behalf is no less than the President of the United States.

The film, which had a working a title of Rodney, has an onscreen foreword thanking the War Department for permission to shoot at Fort Myer. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, cameraman William Casel was killed and an assistant cameraman seriously injured when a cannon they were following slipped backward down a hill.

First Lieutenant Edmund L. Gruber contributed the "U.S. Field Artillery March (The Caissons Go Rolling Along)," for which he wrote both words and music, to the film. The song refers to the two-wheeled wagons that are pulled by horses to carry artillery.

Producer: Merian C. Cooper (Executive Producer), William Sistrom (Associate Producer)
Director: George Archainbaud
Screenplay: Albert Shelby Le Vino, from story by Leonard Nason
Cinematography: Harold Wenstrom
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Editing: William Hamilton
Original Music: 1st Lt. E.L. Gruber
Cast: Walter Huston (Sgt. Benny Walsh), Frances Dee (Marjorie Deane), Minna Gombell (Julie), Frank Conroy (Col. R.G. Deane), G. Pat Collins (Sgt. Tom Randall).

by Roger Fristoe

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