General Custer makes his last stand in this dramatization of the Battle of Little Bighorn. The word of the day was authenticity, even if California stands in for Montana and a romanticized vision of Custer is presented.Continue reading “Custer’s Last Fight (1912) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is trying to help a nice young woman from the east claim her inheritance: a gambling parlor and dance hall, nudge nudge, wink wink. Fights and poker tournaments ensue, of course.Continue reading “Mr. Silent Haskins (1915) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is a Good Bad Man again, this time fighting bandits in 1880s Arizona. A typical tale for him but stylish cinematography and a dark tone lift this picture considerably. It was lost for decades but has recently been reconstructed.Continue reading “The Gun Fighter (1917) A Silent Film Review”
Rin-Tin-Tin stars as the leader of a wolfpack (!) who helps a baby Charles Farrell stake out his borax claim. Location shooting and finecinematography elevate this doggy vehicle.Continue reading “Clash of the Wolves (1925) A Silent Film Review”
The Hal Roach team went serious with this western starring Rex the Wonder Horse and Charley Chase (as Charles Parrott) as the reluctant villain.Continue reading “King of the Wild Horse (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Tom Mix plays a Pony Express rider who takes a job leading a wagon train—which is promptly massacred. His workplace evaluation is not going to be pretty. Bessie Eyton and Red Wing are on hand as the women who love Tom, incompetence and all.
William S. Hart remakes one of his earlier short films as a feature and relocates it to the Canadian wilderness. You’re not going to believe this but he plays a rough and brutal man who finds his heart thanks to a good woman.
A rare Lubin feature film about a young woman who goes west and ends up being forced to marry an alcoholic mine owner. Based on a smash hit play from the same era, this film was hailed as one of Lubin’s best.
An early J. Warren Kerrigan vehicle about a rancher whose single daughter will inherit three million dollars if she can produce a marriage certificate. When the daughter refuses to marry, the father resorts to kidnapping. Allan Dwan directs.
Douglas Fairbanks plays a New Yorker who is obsessed with the west. When he gets an opportunity to travel to Arizona, the locals decide to play up the wild west element but when a robbery turns real, Doug’s cowboy skills come in handy.
A cowpoke (who may or may not be named Steve) wanders into a whole heap of melodrama when he saves an uncredited Fay Wray from a caddish brute (or brutish cad). Solid western from Universal’s Mustang line.
Continue reading “Four-Square Steve (1926) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is a Santa Fe Trail guide whose brother is murdered by a riverboat gambler. And guess who has joined the wagon train Hart is directing to Santa Fe? Less action and more drama in this Hart vehicle with veteran baddie Robert McKim providing the mustache twirls.
An eccentric millionaire decides he wants to spend his golden years reliving his youth as a gold miner in California and so he sends his secretary out west to set things up. This is the only known surviving film directed by Ruth Ann Baldwin.
This movie is not actually about the Oregon Trail but a later wave of settlers. Hey, never let accuracy interfere with a great title! The picture stars Art Mix and concerns his attempts to woo a pretty young lady in a covered wagon.
Real-life outlaw Al Jennings claimed the plot of this film was based on one of his exploits. I’ll leave it to the viewer to decide but there is no doubt that this is a valuable piece of film history and a rather rugged western to boot.
Nightclub queen Texas Guinan made a series of westerns in the 1910s and 1920s. We’re going to be looking at her adventures in ranching as she tries to save her kid sister, Waco, from bandits. (Waco?) Much action and shooty-bang stuff.
Harry Carey plays a cowpoke who turns to a life of crime after his sister kills herself. His only clue to the identity of the man who drove her to it is a twisted cigar butt so Harry naturally starts holding up saloons and stealing their ashtrays. Wait, what?
William S. Hart is in his comfort zone as an actor and director when he plays a rough, tough outlaw who takes the job of marshal on a lark and ends up falling for the town beauty (Margery Wilson, actress and director). Resident vamp Louise Glaum is on hand as the villainess and a good time is had by all.
Continue reading “The Return of Draw Egan (1916) A Silent Film Review”
Land grabs, murders, hijacked trains and gold fever… They sound like standard western fare but this movie was made in France. Anarchic director Jean Durand takes a break from comedy to create this bloody tribute to the wild west—with a strong French accent.
Continue reading “The Railway of Death (1912) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is a wanted man. He’s wanted by the law and he is especially wanted by Mercedes (Enid Markey), a local beauty with a giant crush on our antihero. This early Hart short zips along at a fierce pace until its bloody conclusion.
The comedy trio of Arbuckle, Keaton and St. John take on the western genre and the macho films of William S. Hart in particular. Chaos ensues as Arbuckle and Keaton team up to take down St. John’s obnoxious and lecherous bandit. A raucous adventure comedy with some rather dark bits (Keaton gleefully hides corpses in the floorboards), the short boasts some of the best chemistry in the business.
Continue reading “Out West (1918) A Silent Film Review”
Harold Lloyd heads out west and he takes co-star Bebe Daniels with him. Lloyd plays a wastrel jazz pianist who, through a photo mix-up, ends up with the reputation of being the most dangerous man in a small western town. Will the power go to his head? Of course it will! Bebe is on hand as a spunky miss and the object of our hero’s affections.
William S. Hart is the proprietor of a successful gambling house. Some clown gets the brilliant idea of robbing him at gunpoint. This goes over about as well as you might expect. The problem? The dead man’s innocent and penniless sister is on her way to town. Hart has to do a whole heap of lying to keep her from finding out about her brother’s disgrace.
William S. Hart’s first feature film is also a real corker. He plays a bandit who decides to trade it all in for an honest life but who soon realizes that going straight is a lot harder than it looks. After some misadventures, he finds himself in a strange alliance with the local sheriff. Filled with genuinely exciting actions scenes, ironic humor and a good dose of dust, this movie is the one that made Hart a star. It’s easy to see why.
Continue reading “The Bargain (1914) A Silent Film Review”
The story is as old as the hills: Country boy loses girl to city slicker but then gets a chance to win her back. Speaking of being lost and found, this film was once thought lost before turning up in France. A good thing too as it is the second-earliest John Ford-directed film to survive. Harry Carey plays the unfortunate Wyoming beau.
Continue reading “Bucking Broadway (1917) A Silent Film Review”
One of William S. Hart’s earliest surviving films, this western two-reeler tells the tale of a bad guy who narrowly escapes being guest of honor at a necktie party and learns to be not quite so bad when he meets a kid in trouble. You know, a typical William S. Hart Thursday. An early example of the gritty-yet-emotional western that would become Hart’s stock-in-trade. Hart also directed.
A fun little genre mashup that is half-romantic comedy, half-western. You think it’s hard getting people to sit down for a silent movie? Honey, you ain’t seen nothing until you have tried to get them to watch a silent western. This movie is an ideal ambassador. It’s good-natured, fast-paced and leading man Harry Carey is as charming as can be.
Continue reading “Beyond the Border (1925) A Silent Film Review”
William S. Hart is back in the saddle with one of his most villainous roles. He plays a bandit betrayed by his own lieutenant and out for revenge. We have holdups, posses and plenty of brooding between the action scenes. In short, a Hart film.
An upstart studio arrived in Hollywood and made this 1914 oater. The film is about a British gent who takes the blame for a crime and heads out west. He romances and marries a Native American but finds himself conflicted when an opportunity arises to go back home to England. The film is also notable as the directorial debut of one Cecil B. DeMille.
The surprisingly sympathetic tale of a Navajo man, Wing Foot (Richard Dix), who was taken from his family as a boy and raised in a boarding school. Insulted and referred to as “Redskin” by his college peers, Wing Foot also finds that he no longer fits in with his family, especially his extremely traditional father. Will Wing Foot be able to bridge the gap between the culture of his birth and the culture in which he was raised?
Continue reading “Redskin (1929) A Silent Film Review”