Thursday, January 19, 2012

Treasures 5: The West #3 -- January 19, 2012

One of my Christmas presents was the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West.

Disc three starts with The Lady of the Dugout, which stars and was produced by former bank and train robber Al Jennings, allegedly based on true events in his life.  Jennings, who once shared a prison cell with O. Henry, was known for telling stretchers, so I wouldn't accept the movie as a documentary, but it does have a very realistic feel to it.  The only parts that didn't feel real were the Mojave Desert standing in for Oklahoma and Tehachapi with its huge mountains representing a Texas town.  Jennings and his brother Frank were good, understated performers.

The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw was made in 1915 by a group of lawmen as a response to and earlier, now lost, Al Jennings movie.  Marshal Bill Tilghman and two others produced the movie and appeared in it, along with other peace officers and at least one real bandit, Arkansas Tom Jones.  Tilghman and his partners felt that other movies glamorized bad men.  This one, which unfortunately exists only in parts, takes a different approach.  It includes bits about the original Wild Bunch and Cattle Annie and Little Breeches.  I liked the subtitle "Outlaws do what they do because they are what they are."  That would be a good line for a film noir.  The image above is an ad from the 09-June-1920 Tulsa Daily World, announcing a showing of The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws (an alternate title) with a personal appearance by Marshal Bill Tilghman. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

"The Girl Ranchers" is a 1914 Nestor one-reeler, which was distributed by Universal.  It was silly, but fun.

"Legal Advice" was a 1916 Selig Polyscope one-reeler written by, produced by, directed by and starring Tom Mix.  It may have been the first entire Mix Selig movie that I have seen.  It was a funny story about a pretty female lawyer who came to a western town.  My wife enjoyed the powerful wind blowing through the interiors.  The lawyer had to hold down her dress during one scene.  The end was disturbing.

Womanhandled was a 1925 Paramount feature, directed by Woody van Dyke and starring Richard Dix and Esther Ralston.  It was a comedy, making fun of western movie cliches.  The movie includes scenes shot on location in Central Park and Houston, Texas.  The scenes by the Houston train depot include lots of streetcars.  Richard Dix was actually funny in this movie.

"Beauty Spots in America: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona" is a 1916 Essanay split reel which shows life around the elegant resort.

"The Romance of Water" is a 1931 one-reeler produced by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to justify their stealing water from the Owens Valley.  It doesn't mention the water war and the dynamiting of the acqueduct.

"A New Miracle in the Desert" is an item from a Hearst Metrotone newsreel which tells about the Colorado River acqueduct, which allowed Los Angeles to steal water that it didn't even need.

"The West in Promotional Travelogues" is a group of excerpts from various travel movies, including Edison's 1898 "Sunset Limited," a view of the Georgetown Loop, and tours in Yosemite and Yellowstone.

I enjoyed the whole set.  I'm grateful to my family for the gift.  I recommend it highly.

Disc one:

Disc two:

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