I didn't hold out much hope for The Better Man Wins (1922), a Pete Morrison western, written and directed by Frank S. Mattison and Marcel Perez, but despite its over-age heroine, Dorothy Wood (supposedly only 18 at the time, she looks at least 25 years older), this is actually quite a gritty melodrama in a part-western setting. In fact it's the only movie I know in which both the hero and the villain have premarital affairs with both the heroine and the floozy (realistically enacted here by Gene Crosby -- who plays the heroine in another Pete Morrison entry, Smilin' On)). No, wait! I think I've got that wrong. I think the hero has an affair with the heavy's doxy only and then actually marries the heroine (who has willingly had an affair with Mr Nasty in the meantime) at the fade-out. The villain here is most charismatically played by Dick Murray, who doesn't over-act the evil side of his nature but can turn on the charm when required. And a lot of money has been spent on the production (in fact a bit too much money the heroine's shack has an interior of huge rooms that would not be out of place in a palace!), including not only large sets and lots of extras milling around in crowd scenes, but atmospherically dried-up, dusty, appropriately dreary western locations. I've never seen a Pete Morrison movie before, but if this is a sample of his work, I'm eagerly looking forward to another.
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