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Steven Ghent has decided to sell the mine he's owned for fifteen years, located at the border of Mexico where the Great Divide ends. When the representatives are delayed for a few days, he visits the annual Fiesta for the last time, and he encounters Ruth Jordan, the daughter of his long-dead partner, and discovers that she is a decadent, world-weary society girl. He decides that she's in need of reforming, and that a dose of the Greats Outdoors might do it - so he kidnaps her. Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Great Divide - where east meets west in more than one way
This one is worth watching for several reasons. Even though the sound mix is Vitaphone, it shows how a skilled hand could give the perception of motion and movement and an "outdoor-like" quality to a film even if none of these things were actually possible at the time.
Also, this one is actually a semi-musical, but so sneakily a musical that not even film historians mention it as such. It keeps the numbers short and to the point and fitting for the plot. The plot is pretty simple too. Set in the present -1929 that is -Ian Keith plays Steve Ghent, a miner where the Continental Divide reaches Mexico. Steve is selling his mine after 15 years of being sole proprietor. Before he signs the final papers transferring ownership and leaves town he decides to visit the local annual "Fiesta" one last time. Simultaneously, the daughter of his old partner, Dorothy McKail as Ruth Jordan, is traveling with a group of people, one of which is the buyer of Steve's mine. She also decides to visit the fiesta.
Steve and Ruth have a chance meeting at the Fiesta and Steve decides to have some fun with her and pretend to be a Mexican bandito. Of course, he is neither. He doesn't have much trouble wooing her, and he finds all of this amusing until he finds out she is his old partner's daughter. Understandably, Steve is disgusted with the way Ruth has turned out - a loose mouthy thrill-seeker. Not so understandably he decides kidnapping her and forcing her to rough it in the wilderness is the way to mend her character. Steve should have realized that the men of the town, still steeped in the values of the old West, will not look kindly upon a man kidnapping a lady no matter what his motives and tend to have only one solution to this problem if they catch up to him. A hint - it involves a tree and a rope. How does this work out? Watch and find out.
Fun things to look for - Claude Gillingwater as the future owner of the mine playing his familiar feisty character. Also look for Myrna Loy, who must have been soooo glad when her contract with Warner Brothers was up and she could try to branch out into roles other than clingy vengeful vamps who never seem to be able to attract the objects of their affection. In this case it is Steve who treats her like she is a rattle snake. All in all a fun film that moves along briskly, particularly for an early talkie.
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