Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Zane Grey Fighting Double Feature

The Fighting Westerner is a good title for a cowboy flick. Trouble is, it ain’t one. Course, if they’d used its true Zane Grey title, “Golden Dreams,” it would have bombed. Even though this was made in 1935, it looks and feels about 15 minutes out of the silent era. A couple of silent movie veterans play the old folks, and haven’t quite gotten the hang of talkies. It’s a contemporary story about a mining engineer (Randolph Scott) and a mystery at a uranium mine. The only thing western about is that Randy wears cowboy duds and rides a horse. To emphasize this, he walks around the house a long time in his chaps. He eventually gets into a fistfight and may fire his pistol a time or two, but the film is really just a silly melodrama, complete with a guy in a black slouch hat and opera cape who slinks around like The Shadow.

Fighting Caravans (1931), another Grey tale, is much more fun. Turns out young Gary Cooper had more personality than old Gary Cooper. The real stars of the movie, though, are a couple of drunken scouts played by Tully Marshall (as Jim Bridger) and Ernest Torrence. This was sort of a sequel to the 1923 silent movie The Covered Wagon, which featured the same two scouts. Reminded me of The Big Trail, made a year earlier with young John Wayne, partly because both wear funny shirts. It seems The Big Trail was a rip-off remake of The Covered Wagon. Wheels within wheels.


Drake said...

Randolph Scott is one of my favorite western stars, i understand Scott coached Gary Cooper on his virginian accent for the Virginian.

Jack said...

Fighting Caravans rings a bell but not the other.
Like your new picture at the top of the page.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I didn't realize Big Trail was inspired by Covered Wagon - wanted to see both for some time now. I have The Covered Wagon on VHS - might have to pop that in soon. Karl Brown was the cinematographer and I quite like his stuff.

David Cranmer said...

There are some Zane Grey westerns on Hulu that are entertaining B westerns from the 40s.

I notice they spelled Grey wrong in that top poster. I'm sure that irked him.