Western pardners Jeff and Cash find a baby boy in an otherwise deserted emigrants' camp, and clash over which is to be "father." They are still bitterly feuding years later when they own ... See full summary »
Western pardners Jeff and Cash find a baby boy in an otherwise deserted emigrants' camp, and clash over which is to be "father." They are still bitterly feuding years later when they own adjacent ranches. Bill, the foundling whom Cash has raised to young manhood, wants to end the feud and extends an olive branch toward Jeff, who now has a lovely daughter. But during a mining venture, the bitterness escalates. Is Bill to be set against his own adoptive father? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
William Boyd and Clark Gable, during the making of the film (11 October 1930), narrowly escaped serious injury from falling rock after two tons of explosives went off with considerably more force than planned in Dinosaur Canyon, some 70 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona. While Boyd and Gable were 200 feet from the blast, rocks and boulders rained down between where they were standing. Not so lucky were a number of technicians, some 15 of whom were taken to hospitals in Flagstaff and Tuba City, and director Howard Higgin, who suffered a broken ankle and various cuts. The female lead, Helen Twelvetrees, had already returned to Los Angeles, as most of the principal photography was completed. Dynamite and black powder had been placed in the face of a 400-foot cliff and in an old mine tunnel, the explosion being expected to crumble the cliff. Unexpected presence of hard rock lent the blast violence that had not been anticipated, and showered rock and stone over an area of nearly half a mile. See more »
[Cash and Jeff rescue a baby from a deserted wagon]
What have we got that'll feed his gizzard? He can't chaw jerky!
Aw, you don't know nothin'. There's oatmeal gruel and a mite of bacon grease'll see him through.
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The Painted Desert is a less than average western in which Clark Gable made his first film with any billing. Previously he had been a bit player in several silent features, but this his first role of any substance. It's the only reason The Painted Desert has any significance in Hollywood history.
Made for Pathe Pictures just before they merged with RKO, The Painted Desert is the story of two old desert rats, William Farnum and J. Farrell MacDonald who find an infant alive in a covered wagon on the desert.
For reasons I don't understand, a disagreement about whether to lay claim to a waterhole or to push on further and find enough land for a cattle ranch turns these friends into blood enemies. Farnum takes the infant and raises him as his own.
The infant grows up to be William Boyd in his pre-Hopalong Cassidy days and he becomes a mining engineer and discovers tungsten ore on the MacDonald property. He also takes a shine to MacDonald's daughter Helen Twelvetrees. Also in the race for her hand is Clark Gable.
Gable's performance as the roughneck rival to Boyd caught some attention at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and he became within a year, the studio's biggest star ever in its existence.
Possibly due to bad editing, possibly to bad writing, but The Painted Desert is far from the greatest western I've ever seen. But it yielded something far more valuable than tungsten.
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