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By 1915, William S. Hart had been making pictures with Thomas Ince for two years and had completed twenty films.  The running time for these two-reelers was about 22 minutes.  So, (rough math here), he’d clocked about 500 minutes of screen time.  What was to become his standard character had already emerged and was solidifying.  As were the themes of his dramas.

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The key word here is not “Bat” but “reformed.”

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He helps old drunky.  He’s kind to working women.  He sets the table.  Just don’t kidnap his gal or try to swindle him out of his mining claim.

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He’ll burn down your whole world!  (see also “Hell’s Hinges.“)

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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.

Silent Westerns

November 11, 2009

I’ve been watching a lot of Westerns from the silent era, which is a genre I have not explored a great deal.  Readers of this blog will know that I am a big William S. Hart fan, but outside of his work, I had seen very few silent Westerns.

I can suggest the following films from my recent viewing adventures: the early John Ford epic “The Iron Horse” (1924), the D. W. Griffith produced “Martyrs of the Alamo” (1915), Fred Thomson and Silver King in “Thundering Hoofs” (1924), and a fun 63 minute version of the 10-episode “Hawk of the Hills” serial (1929) with the incredible villain, Frank Lackteen.