Fun Size Review: The Bargain (1914)

Can a 100+ year old action movie be exciting for modern viewers? The Bargain shows that the correct answer is an enthusiastic yes. Fast-moving and funny, this western is about a bandit who forms a strange alliance with the sheriff charged with arresting him. The climax is one of the best chase scenes (oh, all right, the best) of the 1910s. This is also western legend William S. Hart’s very first feature film and it’s also one of his lightest. Strongly recommended.

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Photoplay Cookbook: William S. Hart’s “Stuffed Summer Squash”

Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from one of the biggest players in early features of the wild west.

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Keno Bates, Liar (1915) A Silent Film Review

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.

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The Bargain (1914) A Silent Film Review

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.
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Theme Month! December 2014: Have a Hart


December of 2014 is a significant month for fans of western star William S. Hart. His first feature was released a century ago this month and he was born one hundred and fifty years ago. I couldn’t let this milestone month pass without paying tribute to everyone’s favorite Good Bad Man of the west.

What’s more, I am going to be featuring spoofs of Hart’s gritty west that star some of the best comedians of the silent era! Please enjoy. Oh, and if you have a little something special planned for Hart this month, let me know and I will link to you.

Big V Riot Squad is joining me in the Hart celebration.

To whet your appetite, here are my past reviews of Hart films. Also, I get a chance to be punny. I offer no apologies.

Dark Hart: The Toll Gate (1920) has Hart at his most menacing.

Burning Hart: Hell’s Hinges (1916) is perfectly apocalyptic.

I left my Hart in San Francisco: The Cradle of Courage (1920), in which Bill trades his Stetson for a copper’s cap.

Broken Hart: Bad Buck of Santa Ynez (1915) is a rare tragedy from our usually-victorious hero.

Review #1: New Hart

The Bargain (1914) set the stage for all subsequent Hart films. It’s also a darn good piece of entertainment that holds up remarkably well.

Review #2: Lying Hart

Keno Bates, Liar (1915) was Hart’s last short film and provides an unexpected bit of vamping, courtesy of Louise Glaum.

Review #3: Lloyd Goes West

Two-Gun Gussie (1918) is Harold Lloyd’s fun little short dealing with the perils of a jazz pianist in the oldish west.

Review #4: Arbuckle-Keaton-St. John Go West

Out West (1918) is a dark, morbid and violent send-up of William S. Hart’s grown-up westerns.

Bad Buck of Santa Ynez (1915) 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.

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Fun Size Review: The Cradle of Courage (1920)


William S. Hart hangs up his cowboy hat in this cops-and-robbers tale of post-War San Francisco. Hart is a veteran and ex-crook who comes back from his doughboy stint a changed man. The robber is now a cop and he is forced to investigate his old friends and his own family. Good enough but no classic. Worth it for vintage footage of San Francisco.

If it were a dessert it would be:


Rocky Road Ice Cream. You got your cool stuff, your dark stuff and your fun stuff. An old hat but welcome all the same.

Read my full-length review.


The Cradle of Courage has been released on DVD-R by Grapevine.

Silent Movie Bookshelf: The Complete Films of William S. Hart by Diane Kaiser Koszarski

This is how the (movie) west was won!

William S. Hart was one of the most popular western stars of the silent era. Though his films have a low loss rate, relatively few of them are available on home media. This book is valuable because it is the closest we may ever get to some of Hart’s more obscure titles. It also happens to be the gold standard in the “complete films of” book genre.

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