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The Painted Desert (1931)

Passed | | Western | 7 March 1931 (USA)
Two men find an abandoned baby and fight over the ownership of the child resulting in lifelong rivalry.


, (uncredited)


(story), (story)

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Complete credited cast:
Bill Holbrook (as Bill Boyd)
Mary Ellen Cameron
Cash Holbrook
Jeff Cameron
Rance Brett
Hugh Adams ...
Wade Boteler ...
Will Walling ...
Judge Matthews
Tex (as Guy Edward Hearn)
William Le Maire ...
Denver (as William LeMaire)


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Feindschaft  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Bill Holbrook: Mary Ellen, look out there across the desert. As far as you can see, way off there in the distance... you see those big lonesome pinnacles? When I was a little boy, I used to lie out there evenings, watching the shadows pass over 'em. I used to imagine they were all sorts of things... dragons fighting... giants lying there sleeping... and great big monsters that might come down after it got dark and get me.
Mary Ellen Cameron: [giggle] I know. I used to think that way, too.
Bill Holbrook: You got over it, though.
Mary Ellen Cameron: Over it? Sure! ...
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Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »


Oh! Susanna
Written by Stephen Foster
In the score during the opening credits
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User Reviews

Worth it for Gable
19 July 2014 | by (Oakland, New Jersey) – See all my reviews

Clark Gable in his first big role. He gets low billing but has plenty of screen time to make it appear as if he's one of the stars. Very interesting to see him as a villain in this early Western talkie. It's bigger than a B-western but not quite as fully formed as a feature film; it's somewhere in the middle. Beautiful Arizona locations but terrible production and poor acting aside from Gable and the leading lady, playing opposite western star William Boyd. This really isn't anything especially noteworthy except for Gable's appearance but I'm still glad I got to see it.

5.7 / 10 stars

--Zoooma, a Kat Pirate Screener

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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