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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
British officer, Noisy Jim ( Jim Corey ) is anxious to purchase Cactus
Peter, the horse belonging to Cheyenne Harry ( Harry Carey ), but Harry
refuses to sell. Harry meets Flora Belle ( Gertrude Astor) one night at
the dance hall. Since its pay day, Harry spends all of his money on
her, and when he runs out she looks around for someone else who still
has money to spend. Angered, Harry goes out, sells Cactus Pete, and
returns with more money. When he awakens the next day from his drunken
stupor and realizes what he has done, he is consumed with regret and
goes to recover his horse. He steels his horse, but is ordered shot for
the act. When the fatal hour nears, the British officer relents and
Harry is allowed to go free.
This 1917 western was directed by John Ford for Universal Film Manufacturing Company, starring Harry Carey, and interestingly, Hoot Gibson was also in this sadly now lost film.
The one thing that John Ford mastered in his career as a director was the telling the story of the winning of the West. His most significant westerns are set between 1865 - 1875, and tends to engage with the native Indian community as in this film. The point that he was trying to get across was the fact that after the Civil War when settlers moved west, they became American. The east coast of America up the Revolutionary War was by and large British. Once they won their independence, they hadn't yet carved out an identity for themselves. It was after the Civil War that an American identity came into its own, and this is personified in the western genre, particularly John Ford's offerings.
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