A rich young Easterner who has always wanted to live in "the Wild West" plans to move to a Western town. Unknown to him, the town's "wild" days are long gone, and it is an orderly, ... See full summary »

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Cast

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Calvert Carter ...
Tom Larabee - Hotel Keeper
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Pedro
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Steve Shelby - Indian Agent (as Sam de Grasse)
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A rich young Easterner who has always wanted to live in "the Wild West" plans to move to a Western town. Unknown to him, the town's "wild" days are long gone, and it is an orderly, civilized place now. The townsmen, not wanting to lose a rich potential resident, contrive to make over the town to suit the young man's fantasy. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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old west | train | railroad mogul | See All (3) »


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Release Date:

24 June 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Regular Guy  »

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(color toned)

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1.33 : 1
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Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

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Creation of a Comedian
9 July 2005 | by See all my reviews

Before redirecting his career to swashbuckling adventure flicks with "The Mark of Zorro" in 1920, Douglas Fairbanks starred in modern comedies. He repeated the role of a modern mollycoddle or discontent yearning for adventure; in this film, "Wild and Woolly", he returns comically to his Western roots. He teamed with screenwriter Anita Loos, who pioneered the craft working for D.W. Griffith, and her husband director John Emerson to cement the first of Fairbanks's two popular incarnations. According to the print I saw, Victor Fleming ("The Wizard of Oz", "Gone with the Wind") is credited with photography here, and he worked on other Fairbanks vehicles, beginning his directorial career making them.

The presence of Loos is readily noticeable in the quantity of intertitles, which contributed much of the humor to Fairbanks vehicles, and thus redefined the role of title cards in silent films. In "Wild and Woolly", as elsewhere, they help to undercut the film by poking fun at itself and movies in general, such as in the scene where Fairbanks goes to a picture-play to have his dreams of the wild West come true--even in New York. The entire film plays around with the fact that movies romanticize bygone eras. The ending, too, jests at itself with the insertion of one intertitle.

The pacing is also a nice compliment to Fairbanks's restless, exuberant performance; the editing is as energetic and frantic as he is. It's congruity is also similar to Mack Sennett's Keystone comedies and, as William K. Everson ("American Silent Film") pointed out, is indicative of the fast pace of pictures post "The Birth of a Nation" (1915). Everson claimed that some shots in "Wild and Woolly" lasted no more than five frames. Additionally, Faribanks's acrobatics are perfectly suited to the genre, which he'd carry into his adventure spectacles. Today, Fairbanks remains one of the better-known silent film stars, but mostly for his swashbucklers. Yet, he should be recognized as an early American screen comedian alongside Sennett, Arbuckle, Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, as well, even though his films aren't slapstick and he couldn't be considered a clown of the same order. Like some of the films of Sennett, Chaplin and Keaton especially, "Wild and Woolly" is, however, a comedy that in reflecting itself finds much of its humor.


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