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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Just a few dam comments

Author: Dave Hogan
20 August 2001

"$50,000 Reward" is an entertaining if fairly typical 1920s silent western. In it, Our Hero in the White Hat (Ken Maynard) avails himself of The Damsel in Distress (Esther Ralston) to help save the dam construction project that would otherwise bankrupt her Poor Old Father (Burt Lindley). Horse chases, shootouts, fisticuffs, and et cetera.....and of course, Our Hero and the Damsel fall in love at the end.

What makes this film interesting is that in later prints, there is a lengthy disclaimer at the begining telling how the film was shot at the construction site of The St. Francis Dam which a few years later failed, releasing a devastating flood that killed over 500 people. And while it's true that there was a St. Francis Dam near Los Angeles that collapsed and killed hundreds, it is actually the St. Francis Dams nearly identical sister, the Mulholland Dam, that is seen in the film!

The Mulholland Dam, which still stands today, is located in the Hollywood Hills, conveniently only a few miles from all the major studios. Only recently, experts on the St. Francis Dam disaster have studied the film and determined that the topography around the dam under construction in "$50,000" is that of the Hollywood Hills, and not San Francisquito Canyon - the site of the St. Francis Dam, some 35 miles away.

It's an interesting piece of obscure cinema trivia, and know you're stuck with it in your brain cells. But you never know - it might come up on Jeopardy!


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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pretty Good Maynard Silent

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
30 March 2011

$50,000 Reward (1924)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Tex Sherwood (Ken Maynard) is left some valuable land but at the time he didn't realize how valuable. It turns out that a couple crooked businessmen are building a dam and need Tex's land and they're willing to pay him a little but not the full value. Refusing to give in the bad guys put a bounty on his head. Story wise this is pretty typical of the countless Westerns that were being made in the silent era. This one here certainly doesn't feature anything ground-breaking and it's clearly not on the same league as the films of Tom Mix and William S. Hart but at just 52-minutes it's entertaining enough to be worth viewing. This was the first time I had seen Maynard in action and he was pretty good here. I thought he had a good presence on screen and he was clearly an able person to handle some of the stunts including a wild horse rise where he's being chased by a car. Esther Ralston gets the role of the woman the cowboy is in love with and she's not too bad either, although the screenplay gives her very little to do outside of being kissed and needed rescued. Edward Peil gets to play one of the bad guys and seems to be having fun with the part. One interesting thing about the film is that it uses footage of the Mulholland Dam being built and this contains the most interesting visuals of the film. It gives one a good idea of how a dam was built back in the day and I must confess that these few scenes were a lot more entertaining than anything else in the film. With that said, there were probably at least two or three new Westerns being released each week and this one here certainly isn't anywhere near the best but with a such running time it at least will keep you entertained.

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