Vignettes weaving together the stories of six individuals in the old West at the end of the Civil War. Following the tales of a sharp-shooting songster, a wannabe bank robber, two weary traveling performers, a lone gold prospector, a woman traveling the West to an uncertain future, and a motley crew of strangers undertaking a carriage ride.
While the audience watches a black and white horse opera, a narrator's voice wonders what such a movie would be like today. Rex O'Herlehan, The Singing Cowboy, finds himself in color and enters a cliche ridden town, in which the evil cattle baron (Andy Griffith) and the new Italian cowboys (who always wear raincoats no matter how hot it gets) join forces to get him and the sheep ranchers to leave.
John Wayne portrays Singin' Sandy Saunders and has a reputation as the most notorious gunman since Billy the Kid. That's somewhat ironic though, since it's later revealed that he's a special Secret Service agent sent from Washington to investigate a land swindle scheme under the direction of town boss James Kincaid (Forrest Taylor).
Tom is a cowboy boot-wearing cat at a Texas dude ranch. When a beautiful female cat comes for a visit, Tom takes time from his regular torturing of Jerry to use the mouse as a way to impress the dame. Naturally, Jerry gives Tom his comeuppance.
In his starring debut, Roy gets elected to Congress in order to bring water to the ranchers in his district. In Washington, he learns he needs the backing of a key congressman and gets that man to go west for an inspection trip. When the congressman is initially unimpressed, Roy gets the inspection party stranded without water to show the true conditions.
After Pat Garrett kills Billy the Kid, Billy's look-alike Roy Rogers arrives and is mistaken for him. Although a murderer, Billy was on the side of the homesteaders against the large ranchers. As Billy's death is unknown, Roy gets Garrett to let him pose as Billy to continue the fight, but without the killing.
Cowboy T-man, Rex Allen, and his partner, Homer Oglethorpe (Buddy Ebsen), go undercover to track down some gold smugglers.
Gabino's son tries to find out why his father was murdered.
In a typical western (movie) town (possibly described as 'hick' by someone who possibly hasn't seen the film) Gene Autry and his friend Jack Beaumont are present when the bank is robbed and Sheriff Whiteside is killed. Judge Beaumont, Jack's father, appoints Gene the new sheriff. When Jack learns that his father is making a new will in his disfavor, they quarrel and Jack leaves under suspicious circumstances. Rocky Morgan who has been swindling the judge murders him and Gene has to jail his friend, who thinks Gene is double crossing him. But Gene has a plan to clear Jack.
In the midst of the Civil War, Lassiter has a plan to get control of California. Working out of St. Joseph, he plans to send forged messages to the troops on the west coast via Pony Express. First he attempts to bribe Pony Express ride Roy Rogers. When Roy refuses he turns to the outlaw Johnson and his gang and this leads to trouble.
A singing cowboy (Dick Foran) thwarts a thieving judge and courts a woman (Anne Nagel) in Texas.
Bad guys plot to trick a newly arrived Eastern girl out of a ranch which belongs to her infant ward. Roy, of course, saves the ranch for the girl. Songs include "I'm Headin's for the Home Corral," "He's a No Good Son of a Gun," "Sandman Lullaby," "Song of the San Joaquin," and "I'm a Cowboy Rockefeller."
Gene is hired to be foreman of the Big Sombrero ranch by Jim Garland, who is handling all the business affairs of the owner, Estrellita Estrada, who is more interested in going to America than taking care of her Mexican holdings. Gene, discovering Garland's plan to run all the Mexican rancheros off the ranch, turns against his boss and shortly finds himself in the middle of cattle stampedes and an avalanche started by Garland's men.
Radio star Gene Autry returns to his home town of Gold Ridge at the request of his old friend Pop Harrison, who wants Gene to straighten out his wayward son, Tex Harrison, whose gambling and drinking threaten to bankrupt the rodeo organization which he heads. News photographer Clementine "Clem" Benson and reporter Hack Hackett are ordered to follow Gene. The group finds quarters at the "Bar Nothing" dude ranch, winter quarters for Tex's rodeo group, and Tex soon tangles with Hackett in a quarrel.
Dorothy, and her big city lawyer boyfriend, return to the Lazy 'B' ranch to read her late father's will. For Dorothy to inherit everything, she must stay on the ranch for 5 years. If she does not, everything goes to Buck, who is the manager. She does not like Buck, so she makes a deal with the wrong people for cattle and then the outlaws go to the ranch to get the $10,000 from her. But Buck is on the job.
Mining executive Neal Wallace arrives to investigate the losses at a gold mine and is immediately framed for murder. The murderers then incite a lynch mob but the Sheriff lets him go. Wallace eventually convinces the Sheriff of his innocence and the two then work together to get the gang that is looting the gold ore.
A singing cowboy (Roy Rogers) and his sidekick (George "Gabby" Hayes) fight post-Civil War plunder in Texas.
A singing medicine-show cowboy and his magician partner catch a killer.
Gene Autry and his sidekick Frog look into a phony oil scam being perpetrated on a mission orphanage.