Announcing the 2nd Annual "Watch That Movie" Night

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drednm

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PostWed Jan 20, 2010 12:36 pm

I sneaked a peak at Dream Street.... Carol Dempster as Gypsy Fair the dancer in Limehouse..... Looks like another of Griffith's characters that Richard Schickel calls "jumpy" (he was being kind).....
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostWed Jan 20, 2010 4:28 pm

I'm not sure what I'll watch yet. I don't have any silents that I haven't already seen (finally got through the Gaumont set a couple of weeks ago), but for vintage 1940s-50s sound films I've never gotten around to watching, there are quite a few, including THE SOUTHERNER, LOUISIANA STORY, NEW ORLEANS, the Mexican films NOSOTROS LOS POBRES, USTEDES LOS RICOS, or PEPE EL TORO, and even THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (which I got on BluRay when it came out). There are also a couple of the early Hitchcock talkies on a so-so PD disc I've been putting off in the hopes of finding a better copy (e.g. SKIN GAME, JUNO & THE PAYCOCK). Then there's the feature CLOSED VISION that's the last thing I have left to see on Kino's Avant Garde volume 3 set.

It'll probably be one or more of those I watch over the weekend of January 29th. Any suggestions of which ones people think might be worth starting with?

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R Michael Pyle

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PostThu Jan 21, 2010 5:51 am

Frederica wrote:
R Michael Pyle wrote:Okay, I'm going to watch something that I constantly pass up. It's the old timey western from 1924 "The King of Wild Horses" and it stars that king of horses, Rex the Wonder Horse. But I noticed something the other day that blew me away. It also has Charles Parrott in it!! Am I right? Is that Charley Chase in a western??????!!!!!! I'm watching this. Gotta see him play a straight part during the best part of his comedy career...


You'll enjoy it. Rex is a star, a STAR! I tell you!


My knees are suddenly weak... :shock:
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florodoragirl

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PostThu Jan 21, 2010 6:15 pm

Ok, since I'm new here and want to make a good impression, I would love to play!

My pick is Foolish Wives. For some strange reason, watching Inglorious Basterds has aroused my interest in the films of Erich Von Stroheim and this one has been avoided long enough.
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missdupont

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PostThu Jan 21, 2010 10:28 pm

This is great, beautifully shot, and has some little in-jokes. Look for Mrs. Louise Emmons as the old hag!
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colbyco82

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PostThu Jan 21, 2010 10:48 pm

If I go silent, I think I will watch Street Angel (1928), if I go talkie I think I'll go with Smart Money (1931) with Cagney and Robinson. Street Angel is one of those films that so popular and acclaimed that I am ashamed to say I have watched most of the Borzage Fox set and always avoided that one. Not sure why, though.
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R Michael Pyle

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PostFri Jan 22, 2010 10:34 am

Are we supposed to go ahead and post a review? I ended up watching "my" show last night. If we're to wait until the 29th or so, I will. Let me know, please.
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Mike Gebert

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PostFri Jan 22, 2010 11:40 am

Sure, hold onto it until the festivities of the 29th (and weekend thereof). Or... watch another movie then!
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Nancy Lorraine

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PostFri Jan 22, 2010 10:51 pm

I will either watch: THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928), which is the longest-owned silent dvd I haven't watched yet; or MARE NOSTRUM (1926), the next Rex Ingram film I meant to watch last year after watching SCARAMOUCHE (1923) for last year's watch-that-movie event; or LADY WINDEMERE'S FAN (1925) on the second Treasures set, in honor of the Lubitsch prize.

The ultimate choice will depend on my mood in the next week. But the presence of Ronald Colman might carry a lot of weight...

Nancy
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FrankFay

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PostSat Jan 23, 2010 7:08 am

My favorite part of Lady Windermere's Fan is the interaction between Edward Martindel and Irene Rich - such sophistication.
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Stacia

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 5:51 am

Every challenge I read, I accept!

I'm going to FINALLY watch "White Shadows in the South Seas", which has been sitting around here for probably 2 years. I'm probably the only person here who hasn't seen it yet.
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Mike Gebert

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 9:03 am

And now the count is...

me, Miss Lulu Bett
Drednm, Dream Street or something
Rodney, The Sea Hawk
Danny Burk, Redskin
Rudyfan, Gretchen the Greenhorn
Missdupont, Movies Dream in Color
Jim Reid, Alibi or something
Frederica, Burning Daylight
Greta de Groat, something from Houdini set (I recommend The Man From Beyond)
FrankFay, Old Wives For New or Erotikon
Rob Farr, Sumurun
Penfold, Othello
MikeH0714, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
R Michael Pyle, The King of Wild Horses
Christopher Jacobs, The Southerner or Louisiana Story or something
Floradoragirl, Foolish Wives
Colbyco82, Street Angel or Smart Money
Nancy Lorraine, Lady Windermere's Fan or something
Stacia, White Shadows in the South Seas

That's 19, which I think means we need one more to break last year's record, how about it? Who's in?
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Harlett O'Dowd

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 9:07 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
That's 19, which I think means we need one more to break last year's record, how about it? Who's in?


i'm in - I just haven't figured out what yet. Probably one of the kino Lubitsch's - which I guess defeats the purpose of this event.
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Salty Dog

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 9:25 am

I'll watch Three's a Crowd. Been meaning to do it long enough.
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drednm

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 10:47 am

I watched D.W. Griffith’s 1921 Dream Street, his next film after Way Down East.

Carol Dempster stars as Gypsy Fair, a dancer who lives in a Limehouse-like area of London and who becomes a music hall star after she quells (by dancing) a riot caused by a fire in the theater. If music soothes the savage breast, I guess here dancing soothes the savage mobs.

Griffith’s seedy London is populated by types. Gypsy Fair is much sought after. Two brothers are in love with her. Spike (Ralph Graves) is a strutting and violent guy who is always ready for a fight. Billy (Charles Emmett Mack) is a simpering shrimp. An evil Chinese (Swan Way, played by Edward Peil) also has an interest in Gypsy Fair.

Other stock characters include a street preacher (Tyrone Power, Sr.), a street violinist who wears a mask to disguise his ugliness (Morgan Wallace), and a comic-relief white actor in blackface (Porter Strong). The drama of Gypsy Fair’s pursuit is played out by these characters all set against cheap sets and bad lighting (Hendrik Sartov had replaced Billy Bitzer by now).

First and foremost, the acting from the three stars is uniformly bad.

Mack, in his first film for Griffith, plays his character so invertedly as the simpering, mugging Billy, it’s hard to believe he could survive in London’s tough neighborhoods. He spends most of the film cringing and frowning in fear of everything. Graves, on the other hand, plays so broadly that his chin-jutting character comes off as a buffoon. Graves had worked for Griffith in Scarlet Days (where he was especially good) and The Greatest Question and was usually a likable actor.

Dempster had ascended to starring roles in Griffith’s The Girl Who Stayed at Home in 1919 because Lillian Gish had contracted inluenza. Indeed, Gish hurried her recovery when she learned that Griffith was rehearsing Dempster for the starring role in a little number called Broken Blossoms.

Dempster had supposedly been plucked from a Denishawn dance company at age 14 to enter films. From what I know about Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, and from what I’ve seen of Dempster’s dancing, this is hard to believe. But for her first starring role, Griffith even injected a dance sequence for Dempster. Anyway, here the dancing she displays to quell the rioting mobs consists of kicks, skipping, hopping, and twirling.

To be fair, I thought Dempster turned in a terrific and subtle performance in Isn’t Life Wonderful.

The film culminates with Dempster (channeling Mae Marsh) fearing a sexual attack from Graves and trying to hide in a kind of cubby-closet (channeling Lillian Gish) when she is saved by the unlikely Mack (channeling Richard Barthelmess). The whole film seems to be trying to channel Broken Blossoms. Nothing really works.

The 1921 release featured a spoken introduction by Griffith and a singing sequence by Graves. This audio track is apparently lost.

The film is especially disappointing at it was sandwiched between Griffith’s Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm.
Last edited by drednm on Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CoffeeDan

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 1:15 pm

Count me in -- I've got it narrowed down to three:

THE UNBELIEVER (1918)
I watched the entire Kino Edison set except for this feature-length film.

COBRA (1925)
THE GARDEN OF EDEN (1928)
I ordered these two in a mad frenzy two years ago when I thought they might be going out of print, and I haven't even broken the shrink wrap on them yet!
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Jim Roots

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 1:43 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:And now the count is...

me, Miss Lulu Bett
Drednm, Dream Street or something
Rodney, The Sea Hawk
Danny Burk, Redskin
Rudyfan, Gretchen the Greenhorn
Missdupont, Movies Dream in Color
Jim Reid, Alibi or something
Frederica, Burning Daylight
Greta de Groat, something from Houdini set (I recommend The Man From Beyond)
FrankFay, Old Wives For New or Erotikon
Rob Farr, Sumurun
Penfold, Othello
MikeH0714, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
R Michael Pyle, The King of Wild Horses
Christopher Jacobs, The Southerner or Louisiana Story or something
Floradoragirl, Foolish Wives
Colbyco82, Street Angel or Smart Money
Nancy Lorraine, Lady Windermere's Fan or something
Stacia, White Shadows in the South Seas

That's 19, which I think means we need one more to break last year's record, how about it? Who's in?


Hey, you missed me! I said Bardelys the Magnificent!

Jim
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silentfilm

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PostTue Jan 26, 2010 9:52 pm

I'll be watching something too, but I have not decided what to watch yet. I'm really tempted by a new BluRay disc I got of Steve McQueen's Bullitt, but that is probably too new. I still have a 16mm print of Bette Davis' Of Human Bondage that I have had for a year and now watched yet. I've also got several DVDs that I have not opened yet...
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PostWed Jan 27, 2010 9:07 am

I'll go with Trouble in Paradise, which I bought because Das Fidele Gefangnis is on the same DVD. I watched the short, meant to watch the feature, and then forgot about the whole thing for years. This thread reminded me to check those old DVD's!
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Danny Burk

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PostWed Jan 27, 2010 11:07 am

I watched REDSKIN last night - or, as it might also be called, WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH WEST.

A few impressions. Plot-wise, it's unusual for its time in its sympathy toward Native Americans, but with a well-rounded mix of "good" and "bad" in both white and Indian characters. The major villains are crooked whites (oil men), and a strong emphasis on racial issues is carried through the film. The actors, including Richard Dix in the lead, give good performances and it's a well-made film overall, but not one that I'd consider outstanding as far as drama, writing, and so on.

I was much more interested in its technicals, and in this it didn't disappoint. The majority of the film is two-color Technicolor, which is presented properly with its blue-greens and ruddy oranges. The color scheme works great for Navajo fabrics and the desert southwest in general; the strong greenish cast to skies isn't one of two-color Tech's strong points, but I prefer to see it properly shown here as compared to, say, the DVD of MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM that had its blues wrongly shown as "too blue".

The film greatly benefits from its outdoor shooting and looks beautiful on the DVD presentation. The scenes in "modern civilization" (school, etc) are in amber-tinted b&w; this comprises about 25% of the running time, and according to program notes, was done to reduce the already over-budget cost of Technicolor filming. I had the feeling that a 1929 silent would probably not have its b&w scenes tinted, but the accompanying notes stated that it actually did.

The default musical soundtrack is a nicely done traditional piano score. Reels 1, 3 and 8 include the original Jamecnik score as an alternate; I watched it with these too, and although the piano score is perfectly adequate, I greatly preferred the original. It's unfortunate that the other discs apparently haven't (yet) been found.

I'd recommend the film, particularly for those who are fond of two-strip Tech (and aren't we all?). We're lucky that it survives at all, especially now that it's been made widely available.
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drednm

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PostWed Jan 27, 2010 11:14 am

Danny I agree with your assessment of this film and its color.... However Griffith made a bunch of films in the teens that were sympathetic to Indians.... but maybe by the late 20s that sympathy had gone out of style?
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Review of EROTIKON. . ..so far

PostWed Jan 27, 2010 8:05 pm

Well, I haven't finished EROTIKON yet (my portable player ran out of power) but I've gotten through most of it so I'll post some opinions while they're still fresh.

First- AWFUL score- a sort of droning folkish violin duo, on and on without variation of any seeming relation to the action- I can't say the last for certain because I turned off the sound.

This film looked very nice in clips and I was expecting something witty and clever- which it is, sort of. It starts out nicely in a DeMille like manner, but Stiller's glacial pacing does it in. The film certainly looks great- tons of money were poured into it and it all shows. The women wear beautiful clothes and the sets are lavish- and Stiller uses them to create beautiful compositions. The cinematography is excellent It's a visual delight. The cast is fine, and the story has great possibilities: wife deceives husband with one man (a loutish baron) but is is love with the husband's best friend. She admits to her wrongs and leaves to go home to mother. ""Our lawyers will handle the divorce- but you will have to send my wardrobe immediately"

After a bit of crying the husband doesn't seem to care much., possibly because he's been rather attentive to his rather saucy niece (I don't know if the relation is by blood or marriage, it's never explained) and when his best friend says he'll straighten things out the husband thunders "Who the Hell told him to do THAT!" and "I demand my rights as a deceived husband!" There are quite a few nice lines (courtesy of the source play I suspect) and some neat scenes, but once I finish this one I don't think I'll watch it again.

BTW- don't put my name in the drawing, I already have The Doll.
Eric Stott
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Mike Gebert

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PostThu Jan 28, 2010 11:00 am

I had to think about Erotikon for a few days— a good short discussion on AMS helped too— but I really liked it once I felt like I got it. I'm too far from having seen it now to comment intelligently, but that discussion is pretty good; basically the question is, the main female character who engineers all the trouble, if she's not a monster, what is she? And one answer is, she's trapped and depressed, and shaking up the stuffy lives around her to feel alive again.

I think the score is a big impediment to understanding, because it makes the movie glum and alienating when what it really needs to be is seemingly a frothy comedy on top, with a psychological drama underneath. That's a double game that the score both gives away and ruins.

I'm not saying it's entirely successful at all this— it is 1920 after all— but it would be more successful, and approachable, without that score!
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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FrankFay

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PostThu Jan 28, 2010 11:26 am

I pretty much agree- nothing could make it exactly frothy, but the right score would pick it up considerably. Not exactly up to a Lubitsch level, but with a little help it could pass as DeMille. The ballet is an unfortunate choice though, although it is lavish it seems to go on forever (the static shooting does not help) and the ironic message is as subtle as a blow to the head. And THEN we find the next piece on the program is Pagliacci!- talk about overkill.
(Loved the professor's comment though- something like: "I dislike unhappy endings- in this I am in agreement with the fans of Motion Pictures")
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Mike Gebert

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PostThu Jan 28, 2010 11:34 am

There's also a good essay on it in David Thomson's Have You Seen? (You can read it by clicking on the title, then using "Search inside the book" to search for Erotikon.) I wouldn't trust any claim of "first," especially from someone who's not much of a silentophile, and I think he uses it wrongly to bash earlier American silent film-- which is not to say he's wrong, exactly. But in any case, I think he's right about what's lively and thoughtful in the film.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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FrankFay

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PostThu Jan 28, 2010 11:38 am

I'll have to check that out.

If I were technically minded I'd take Erotikon and recut it- and the first things to go would be most of that ballet!
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PostThu Jan 28, 2010 9:18 pm

I would like to throw myself and 'The Red Kimona' (1925) into the ring.
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Jim Roots

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PostFri Jan 29, 2010 7:43 am

Change of plans for me.

First, I won't be able to post a review until probably Wednesday due to a business trip.

Second, I'm switching from Bardelys to Becoming Charley Chase. Really don't have much to say about the former film. I liked it okay, but everybody else in my family complained it was too slow-moving for a swashbuckler. It's well-made. I have only two comments:

1) John Gilbert really does nothing for me. He doesn't stand out from the crowd in any of the films I've seen him in, including all the Garbo silents. He looks like a million other men.

2) I really had to laugh at the scene when he and his gal drift downstream in a boat. King Vidor was all too obviously going for the ultimate poetic-romantic-dreamlike sequence, but there's an absolutely huge blunder throughout that wrecks it all for me: what the heck is supposed to be propelling the boat? It has no sail and obviously no outboard motor and not even an oar or a Venetian gondola pole. There's no wind. The water is completely placid, so there's no current. It wouldn't be so bad if the scene was a short one, but Vidor drags it on and on and on until it becomes unintentionally hilarious. The Titanic got across the ocean faster than that!

Jim
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R Michael Pyle

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PostFri Jan 29, 2010 12:34 pm

I had fun watching "The King of the Wild Horses" (1924) starring Rex the Wonder Horse. (I've put off watching this for two or three years; but now, all of a sudden, I have two copies, and I figured I might as well not waste my money any longer - "Get watching, Pyle," I put it to me in the imperative!) The humans in the cast were a treat, too. The star, of all people, was none other than Léon Bary, the French actor who came over to the States earlier on and was later Athos, one of the three musketeers in Fairbanks' movie of the same name. Also in the cast were Edna Murphy, Pat Hartigan, Sidney De Gray, and - of all people - Charles Parrott - yes, Charley Chase!! I couldn't believe my eyes at the beginning when I saw Charley Chase, and I wondered if it could really be! But, yes, it was, and he plays a ne'er-do-well's ne'er do well, if ever there was one. He plays the son of a ranch owner (de Gray) who bilks his father along with Pat Hartigan (who's really forcing Chase, it turns out). That's one of three stories.

Another is a mutual interest - I'd not quite call it a love interest yet - between Bary and Murphy.

The real story, though, is the story of man versus wild horse - The Black - Rex the Wonder Horse - and it's a wonderful story. A horse in wild horse country rules a roost of other wild horses (I know, the metaphor's false) and, at the beginning, shows how he keeps ruling the roost by ousting another competitor. But men have been after this one, too. That's the story we follow until Bary tames the horse while a fire threatens both of them! Then Bary tames the bad guys, too, with the help of the king of the wild horses, of course. Hopefully, he eventually would tame the girl, besides. I must admit that this entire 60 minute film is nothing more than a cowboy fantasy if ever there was one. Nothing like this could ever happen - but it sure was fun watching it happen!

I must admit that there were some of the worst cut to's and back's I've ever seen in a film. The editing was quite sloppy, but no one but a film nut like myself (and the bunch on this blog) would notice. I also noticed in a couple of scenes that Rex was sweating far too much, building up a slather, indeed, way, way too much. They must have worked him like a dog, if you'll pardon the expression! He was so slathered in one scene that he looked like a different horse because of the color of his sweat in the sun, filmed by an antique camera. Early westerns that weren't "A" pictures didn't necessarily get the treatment other films did. This was made by Hal Roach, by the way, and that's probably why Charley Chase was in it.

I enjoyed this film immensely! So will anyone else who watches it. Very highly recommended if you like horse flesh in the wild...

My print is in a double DVD release from Televista/Mvd. The other DVD is "Thundering Hoofs" with Fred Thomson. I watched it, too. Wonderful show, but I have seen it before. Decent print, though. There's only one surviving print, I think, and it's the only Thomson still in existence where he's the cowboy lead.
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PostFri Jan 29, 2010 1:25 pm

See? Fred would not steer you wrong, Rex was and IS a S-T-A-R
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