Before John Ford had John Wayne, he had Harry Carey.  Knowing this, and knowing that Wayne admired Harry Carey as a kid, emulated him in his early acting and paid tribute to him his later career, it’s hard to watch an early Ford/Carey film like “Straight Shooting” and not look for Wayne in the shadows.

This 1936 film is surprisingly rich.  The story is credited to John Ford.  I don’t know if this is a remake of a silent film Ford made or if he had been developing this project (with Harry Carey?) and dropped it or was replaced.  Ford had clearly pictured a more expensive film (there are airplane chase scenes, for one thing) and veteran director Christy Cabanne does a good job making it feel that way.

Interesting opening with famous outlaw Dean Peyton being released from prison after 25 years for a 1911 bank hold-up.  Harry plays him as a broken man.

He heads back to Broken Knee, which is now the modern metropolis called Center City.  The film is mainly comic, reminiscent of “The Front Page.”  It co-stars Hoot Gibson, who worked with Carey a number of times.

There are two interesting meta moments in this film.  The first is when Peyton gets to Center City.  Everyone is mean to him and no one remembers his exploits.  However, when he goes to the bookstore and browses the bargain books outside, the second one he picks up is this one:

Another great moment happens when Dean is reunited with his old friends and his daughter.  To celebrate his release from prison, they all go to a movie.

They watch a newsreel featuring ski-jumpers and parachute daredevils. Deans asks, ‘why you suppose so many people are risking their lives these days?”

The film-within-the-film, “The Heart of the Plains,” plays like a real cheapy.  The star, Lenny Dixon, is portrayed on the silver screen withing the silver screen by Fred Scott, who would go on to have a short-lived career as a real singing cowboy.

Dean asks, “what are those?”  His pal answers, “cowboys.”

I’m currently taking a pleasant drive through John Wayne’s earliest films.  I thought I’d take a detour and catch a flick by one of his greatest reported influences, Harry Carey.

1935 is pretty late in Carey’s career so there’s not a lot to learn here about what the Duke took away from his acting.

Maybe the Duke is visible in the authority that he projects.  Or certain mannerisms.

We’ll have to revisit this idea another time.  Until then, see ya round old timer…