IMDb > Heritage of the Desert (1932)

Heritage of the Desert (1932) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 42% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Zane Grey (story)
Harold Shumate (adaptation) ...
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Release Date:
30 September 1932 (USA) See more »
Land Thieves And Bandits Battling Pioneer Settlers Of The West! (reissue poster) See more »
Nabb controls the pass and lets all the ranchers through except Holderness and his stolen cattle. When Nabb refuses to sell... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
She fingers his plumb bob. See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

Randolph Scott ... Jack Hare

Sally Blane ... Judy

J. Farrell MacDonald ... Adam Naab

David Landau ... Judson Holderness

Gordon Westcott ... Snap Naab

Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Lefty - Henchman (as Guinn Williams)

Vince Barnett ... Windy (as Vincent Barnett)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Charles Brinley ... Naab Man (uncredited)
Fred Burns ... Bob Burns (uncredited)

Jim Corey ... Ed Slade - Henchman (uncredited)
Frank Ellis ... Barfly (uncredited)

Susan Fleming ... Girl at Roulette Table (uncredited)

Billy Franey ... Naab Man (uncredited)
William Gillis ... Cowhand (uncredited)
Merrill McCormick ... Henchman (uncredited)

Lew Meehan ... Red - Henchman (uncredited)
Vester Pegg ... Naab Man (uncredited)
Jack Pennick ... Fred (uncredited)

Tex Phelps ... Naab Man (uncredited)

Hal Price ... Bartender (uncredited)
Bob Reeves ... Naab Man (uncredited)

Joe Rickson ... Joe (uncredited)

Charles Stevens ... Pancho (uncredited)

Directed by
Henry Hathaway 
Writing credits
Zane Grey (story)

Harold Shumate (adaptation) and
Frank Partos (adaptation)

Produced by
Harold Hurley .... producer
Cinematography by
Archie Stout 
Art Direction by
A. Earl Hedrick 
Music Department
John Leipold .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Ralph Rainger .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Adolph Zukor .... presenter

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"When the West Was Young" - USA (reissue title)
See more »
60 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
UK:U | USA:Approved | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

This is one of 20 Zane Grey stories, filmed by Paramount in the 1930s, which it sold to Favorite Films for re-release, circa 1950-52. The failure of Paramount, the original copyright holder, to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.See more »
Anachronisms: The story takes place in 1890, but Sally Blane's hairstyles, make-up and demeanor are strictly 1932, likewise the girls in the saloon.See more »
Dance Hall Girl:Hello, Stranger
Jack Hare:How did you know I was a stranger?
Dance Hall Girl:Because I don't know you. Anybody I don't know is a stranger.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs (2000) (TV)See more »


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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
She fingers his plumb bob., 30 January 2005
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

'Heritage of the Desert' is an excellent western that will appeal to viewers who don't normally like westerns. Made early in the career of the underrated director Henry Hathaway, this is a splendid example of his skills.

Veteran character actor J Farrell MacDonald gives one of his best performances here as Naab (unnecessarily weird name), a rancher who permits neighbouring ranchers to run their cattle drives through a narrow pass on his land ... all except rancher Judd Holderness (great name!), whom Naab knows to be a rustler. I usually dislike actor David Landau, with his coarse features and unpleasant voice, but here he has some great dialogue ... baiting his henchman Lefty with lines like 'How often have I told you not to think? You can do a lot better with your gun' and 'You got a six-gun where your brains oughta be.' When a morally ambiguous rancher (good performance by Gordon Westcott) tries to appeal to Holderness's conscience -- 'You wouldn't do a thing like that, would you?' -- Holderness calmly replies 'I do things like that every ten minutes.' Sally Blane, Loretta Young's sister, gives a strong and appealing performance as the heroine. I'm a fan of Loretta Young, but I've always found her just a little too beautiful to be believable in most of her roles. (I have the same problem with Nicole Kidman, whom I also like.) Blane strongly resembled her famous sister but was slightly less beautiful, and this makes her far more credible than Loretta in roles such as the one she plays here. Blane spends much of the film in a set of culottes which show off her lissome figure, but which are probably not historically accurate.

Vince Barnett, a character actor whom I usually like, is saddled here with some painfully thick-witted dialogue which he enunciates in one of the most bizarre and implausible accents I've ever heard. Randolph Scott is excellent as the surveyor who arrives at Naab's spread, where Sally shows interest in his plumb bob.

SPOILERS COMING. Hathaway's directorial hand is sure throughout. I was especially impressed by one staggeringly beautiful desertscape, and by a long series of dissolve shots as Randolph Scott's stand-in, wounded by a cowpoke's bullet, stumbles through the alkali.

Later in the film, there's an impressive sequence in which two characters draw their pistols and stand each other off. The camera pans to Sally Blane's reaction as two shots are fired off-camera. She screams, and we know that *somebody* got plugged ... but we don't learn the outcome until later.

Considering that this film was made on a low budget in 1932, its sound recording is very impressive. I'll rate 'Heritage of the Desert' 8 out of 10.

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