The parallel stories of a modern preacher and a medieval monk, Gabriel the Ascetic, who is killed by an ignorant mob for making a nude statue representing Truth, which is also represented by a ghostly naked girl who flits throughout the film.
A stranger comes to work at widow Halla's farm. Halla and the stranger fall in love, but when he is revealed as Eyvind, an escaped thief forced into crime by his family's starvation, they ... See full summary »
Susie, a plain young country girl, secretly loves a neighbor boy, William. She believes in him and sacrifices much of her own happiness to promote his own ambitions, all without his ... See full summary »
A tough Westerner is run out of town and heads east to New York, where he takes a job as bodyguard and guardian to a wealthy young man. Sent to recover some sensitive love letters, the ... See full summary »
William S. Hart
William S. Hart,
Because the Baron of Chanterelle wants to preserve his family line, he forces his timid nephew Lancelot to choose one of the village maidens to wed. Lancelot flees to a monastery to escape ... See full summary »
Charlie talks wealthy farmer's daughter Tillie into eloping with him (and taking her father's money). In the city Tillie gets drunk and lands in jail while Charlie runs off with her money ... See full summary »
Coke Ennyday, the scientific detective, divides his own time in periods for "Sleep", "Eat", "Dope" and "Drink". In fact he's used to overcome every situation with drugs: consuming it to ... See full summary »
When Reverend Robert Henley and his sister Faith arrive in the town of Hell's Hinges, saloon owner Silk Miller and his cohorts sense danger to their evil ways. They hire gunman Blaze Tracy to run the minister out of town. But Blaze finds something in Faith Henley that turns him around, and soon Silk Miller and his compadres have Blaze to deal with. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The story is dead simple: a tough guy is redeemed by love and becomes a defender of good over evil. The fact that it is told just as simply as it's constructed gives it a lot of power, though. The saloon-owner and the tough hombre both want to keep law and religion out of town, for different reasons. The saloon keeper sees it as a threat to his trade. The cowboy sees it as a curtailment of personal freedom. One look at the new preacher's sister changes his life: is it her beauty or her purity that strikes him to the core? In W.S. Hart's cosmos, they are the same thing. Whereas most great westerns are about the control of land, about advancing through physical spaces (and that's why they're such excellent visual subject matter) this one is really about the control of spiritual territory. The physical town will be conquered by the church-group only if it conquers the spiritual realm.
William S. Hart, who had considerable experience as a stage actor, including the performance of a good deal of Shakespeare, clearly understood that in the movies, acting and personal presence were inseparable. His acting is incredibly restrained, and he lets the contours of his face speak volumes. He makes a few very stylized gestures, but mostly relies on his personal presence, which is considerable. He is much more animated early in the film, before his conversion. Once he is won over by the message of the church, he never cracks a smile, barely moves his face at all unless he's really angry.
The entire film is as straightforward and unvarnished as Hart himself. The town is a spare group of unpainted wood buildings in barren wasteland. The Villain wants to run things, and he'll do whatever it takes with no subtrefuge necessary. The saloon girls are blatantly prostitutes. The church-goers are women and older men; all the young men are hell-raisers. The hero's prayer is, in essence, "God, if you really answer prayers, then what I want is the girl." It all sounds incredibly corny, but it rings so true when you watch it, it's hard not to feel a thrill.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?