When Lew Walters and his three henchmen kidnap Millie and her child, her brother Jim Carson sets out to find her. Now known as Jim Lassiter, he kills the three henchman. In Cottonwood County he joins up with rancher Jane Witherspoon in her fight against the rustling Riders of the Purple Sage. The crooked County Judge is Dyer, who unknown to Lassiter is really Lew Walters. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The alternate version has non-original cast credits. Except for 'Tom Mix' , whose name appears above the title, actors originally were not credited in this movie at the start or at the end. Instead, 8 additional actors and their character names are credited in the intertitles right before they appear on-screen and are listed in the same order in the IMDb cast. All other actors are marked uncredited. See more »
THE RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (Fox, 1925), directed by Lynn Reynolds, stars Tom Mix, popular cowboy hero of the silent screen, in the second of four filmed adaptations based on Zane Grey's classic western novel, and the best known of them all, mainly due to its interesting story, good scenery, a touch of comedy, plenty of action and fine performances provided by its leading actors, especially Tom Mix as a fearful cowboy who is quick on the trigger.
Opening with the inter-titles reading: "On the far reaches of the great southwest in the late eighties, Frank Erne and his wife are making a brave fight to establish their little homestead," the story gets underway with Millye Erne (Beatrice Burnham) mother to her infant daughter, Bessie (Sissyl Johnson) and husband, Frank (Arthur Morrison) who is heavily in debt, tired of her struggling existence. She is loved by Lew Walters (Warner Oland), a local attorney, who, after being forced to leave town, decides to take Millye with him. When she refuses, he takes her by force, having his men (Fred Kohler, Jim Ritzson and Charles Newton) abducting her child and shooting Frank. Before he dies, Frank tells the situation to Jim Carson (Tom Mix), a Texas Ranger and Millye's brother, leading him to carry on a new mission, dedicating his life in locating his sister and niece as well as tracking down Walters. Walters marries Millye after learning of Frank's death. Feeling the child to be a nuisance and wanting Millye all to herself, although she really doesn't love him, Walters, now under the assumed surname of Pyer, hires Oldring (Wilfred Lucas), leader of the Riders of the Purple Sage, to take the child away. At a loss for her Bessie, Millye searches aimlessly in the wilderness for her, and dies in the process. During his years of searching, Carson, now going under the name of Jim Lassiter, learns of his sister's fate through Jane Witherstein (Mabel Ballin), who had found and befriended her prior to her death. Because Jane knows the whole story but at present refuses to tell how much she knows, Carson, accepts the job as foreman on her ranch, and bonds with Fay Larkin (Dawn O'Day, later to become teen actress Anne Shirley in the 1930s), an orphaned child Jane has adopted. As Jim saves Jane from the clutches of Richard Tull (Charles Lamorne), a ruthless cattleman, Bern Venters (Harold Goodwin), a young cowboy, encounters a masked member of the Riders of the Purple Sage, a young girl (Marian Nixon) who might possibly be Jim's missing niece.
A simple story and an above average western motion picture, RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE which runs under an hour, moves swiftly across the screen. Aside from an earlier 1918 version with William Farnum, and its 1931 and 1941 remakes, starring George O'Brien and later George Montgomery, a sequel, THE RAINBOW TRAIL (Fox, 1925) also featuring Tom Mix, immediately followed.
Fans of the "Charlie Chan" movie series from the 1930s will take pleasure in watching Warner Oland some years before playing the Oriental sleuth taking part as a nasty villain here. Aside from assuming two identities to his sole character in RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE, take notice that Oland's appearance changes three times during the coarse of the story. He is introduced sporting dark hair and mustache. In the middle portion of the story, he appears a trifle older minus the mustache, and for the near conclusion, which is set some 15 years or so later, now acting as judge in a town of Cottonwood, his hair has changed to white sporting once again a mustache. Regardless of how he appears, this is the man the Texas Ranger, as played by Mix, wants to get.
Of the handful of Tom Mix westerns released during the silent era, many have survived but few have been revived. THE RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE did become one of the few to be presented on television, notably on public television 13-week series of THE SILENT YEARS (1975), as hosted by Lillian Gish, accompanied by an excellent piano score by William Perry from the Paul Killiam Collection. In later years, it was distributed on video cassette in 1996 by Critic's Choice video and sometime later on DVD. Rarely shown on television these days, it can be found on one of the numerous cable stations, The Westerns Channel, showing the movie with the Perry piano score. Fine viewing for silent western fans and a fine introduction to movie cowboy Tom Mix. (***)
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