© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Frankie Laine 

Mr. Movie: Frankie Laine

What? You may be thinking. Frankie Laine was a singer. Was he also in movies? Well, not as an actor. But back in the ’50s and ’60s, if you were making a western, you just had to get Frankie Laine to sing the movie’s song. And he sure could!


One of his best songs isn’t from a movie at all, but a TV show: Rawhide (1959-65). This was a super good series about cowboys on a looooooong cattle drive and the people and problems they encounter along the way. There’s nobody much you’ve ever heard of in the cast. Oh wait, there was a rugged looking young guy named Clint Eastwood.


A couple of Frankie’s big western hits had nothing to do with a movie. But these are great songs! Mule Train and Ghost Riders in the Sky are still around today. Ghost Riders was also recorded by Vaughn Monroe, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and many others.


Starting with the classic High Noon (1952), Frankie knocked out hit after hit from Western movies. This one stars Gary Cooper as sheriff Kane and Grace Kelly as his newly wedded bride Amy. Kane put Frank Miller in prison. Miller’s out now and vowing revenge and he’s coming to Kane’s town with his brothers. Kane says leaving would be cowardly. Amy says she’s a Quaker and she’s not staying. The Frankie Laine song is just perfect: “He made a vow while in state prison; vowed it would be my life or his’n. Look at that big hand move around— nearing high noon.” Tex Ritter sang the song in the movie; Frankie made it a megahit.  Oh, and Amy winds up running back to join in the fray and of course you know both Kanes make it out okay.


Gunfight At The OK Corral (1957) is a good film a little shaky on history. Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas)  and Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) take on the Clanton gang in this one and the song sums it up nicely. In the cast also are the legendary bad guys Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman and Jack Elam. The real gunfight is supposed to have lasted about 3 minutes but that wouldn’t make much of a movie (or song).


3:10 To Yuma (1957) with Glenn Ford as the good guy and Van Heflin as the heavy is not in the same class, but the song is good. The film was remade in 2007 with Russell Crowe without a lot of improvement. The Hanging Tree (1959) is another so-so film with a really good Frankie Laine title song.


OK, this is the funniest movie I have ever seen: Blazing Saddles (1974) is Mel Brooks’ comedy gem. The governor sends a Black railroad worker accused of assault to be the Sheriff of Rock Ridge. He also has a gang of thugs sent to run the residents off, assuming the new Sheriff won’t be up to the job. Wrong. Cleavon Little plays Bart, the Sheriff. Mel Brooks himself plays the dimwitted governor, and Gene Wilder plays the new deputy. One of the many highlights is when thuggish Alex Karras literally knocks out a horse. Brooks advertised for “a Frankie Laine-type singer” and got Frankie himself to do the title song without telling him the film is a comedy. Frankie knocked it out in one take and it became another hit.


All of the movies in this article are available on DVD. All are OK for 12 and up.