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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Mix is not your typical hero in this early effort!

7/10
Author: Gblakelii from United States
24 March 2007

According to Blackhawk Films who distributed the standard 8 format of this film, it originally(in 1914) was a 2 reeler, but at least 5 years later as Mix's popularity began to soar it was combined with another 2 reeler to provide a near feature length film for his ever growing audience. It still stayed true to the overall story, although the ending was altered somewhat. The plot chiefly is fairly interesting and Mix's performance is good, but the abundance of inter-titles is a drawback as well as the camera work which in general relies on the medium shot. There are about only 2 medium close shots, and no "close-ups" at all! What is really different about this Western is that the hero is definitely not your stereotypical hero, as he flirts with disaster more times than not. Dakota Joe(Mix) is on the run for crime attributed to him but actually committed by his brother. There is a $1000 reward poster for him nearby which he promptly crumbles up. Maybe he is on the run because of his pullover striped shirt he is wearing! It's a dead giveaway. There is a 1912 photograph of him wearing a similar shirt in the book, A Pictorial History of the Silent Film, so perhaps he was experimenting in a trademark style which thankfully he must have been talked out of. Anyhow, we are introduced to the characters at the Paradise Valley Ranch he has ridden up to. There is the foreman(troublemaker) and the ranch owner. Dakota joins up with the outfit and soon is well acquainted with the local beauty, Grace. At round-up time they ride together and the foreman doesn't like it. Next, a fight between two of the cattle is showcased. Then as everyone has settled down for eats, a bull is on the loose and after Grace. Dakota Joe comes to the rescue, bringing the animal down, although he also is totally spent. At his weakest now, the law happens to ride up and take advantage of the scene in order to capture him. As they begin leading him into town, he escapes. Dakota then is able to steal a gun from a sleeping man. The law return to the ranch hands and seek their help. Next we see, a rare(in this film) medium close shot of Dakota shooting his handcuffs apart. Before you know it, the posse once again catch up to him and there is a shootout. Dakota Joe gets away, but not long after gets thrown from his horse! What Western star does this? He is not too far from the whole crowd now, and in fact Grace takes out a telescope(how many of those do you see in a Western?) and is able to ascertain Dakota's safety. Well, the law once again captures and leads him off to jail, with Grace remarking, between sobs, that she will wait for him. Maybe events now will take a turn for the best, as when we see Dakota Joe behind bars he is wearing a white dress shirt! After a short interval Grace gets concerned that Dakota will be mistreated at the jail house. What follows is a scene that no doubt was not new even then, but would be repeated countless times in future Westerns. It's the old "hiding the saw in the picnic basket trick" that Grace resorts to! This works and he soon breaks out. Once again, though, luck is not on his side. He suffers more hazards than the "Hazzards of Helen" and "Perils of Pauline" put together! What happens this time is his horse goes lame. To escape his pursuers, an inventive scene, which once again would be used in later pictures, takes place. Dakota takes apart his rifle and uses it as a breathing tube to hide under water. As the posse pass him by and are out of site, he continues for some distance on foot. It is not long before he collapses. An old prospector(is there any other kind?) with a telescope(they must be on sale!) finds him and brings Dakota to his cabin to get well. There is some confusion later which reminds the viewer that they are actually viewing 2 combined films, but the conclusion is nicely worked out, and one more medium close shot is thrown in for good measure. The print quality is very good and running time approximately 44.5 minutes.

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