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Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams,
Al St. John
Both Sprague and Jett and their crews are hunting buffalo. Doan is with Sprague and is looking for the Jett outfit where his girlfriend Milly is being held against her will. In addition to the thieving Jett who is stealing Sprague's furs, the Indians are gathering to attack all the white buffalo hunters. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This very early film in Scott's career is the only one in which I've seen him sporting a pencil moustache(or any facial hair). Sometimes, I wondered if I was looking at Brian Donlevy, not realizing how much more they look alike with the moustache factor thrown in... Buster Crabbe is listed near the top of the credits, but only appears in the first segment, as a stage driver. Clearly, his brief appearance was meant to attract more female viewers...Harry Carey, a top cowboy draw during the silent era, has now been relegated to supporting roles, playing Clark Sprague, owner of the Sprague trading post, and bison shooting outfits. John Wayne had great respect for Carey's typical portrayal of westerners. Two of Carey's last film parts were in the Wayne-starring "Angel and the Badman" and "Red River"... Noah Beery played Randall Jett, boss of a hide- thieving buffalo shooting outfit.He and his more famous brother, Wallace, often played heavy villains...Jett's bossy, plain -looking, wife, Jane, is played by Bianche Friderici, who mostly played similar roles in other films...Judith Allen is the tomboyish Milly Fayre, stepdaughter of the Jetts, but with a bad relationship with both. She needs a good man(Randy's character) to rescue her from her intolerable life.
Randy's character, an experienced bison hunter, is a new hire for Sprague. Clearly, he has had a prior romantic relationship with Milly, as she jumps on a stage from her horse, looking for him. Later, they meet in the bush and plan to be married that night.But Randell catches her trying to ride out of the Jett camp, and she is put under guard. He has an incestuous relationship with her. Randy later catches up with the Jetts, on the move, but is wounded and knocked out trying to rescue Milly. The Jetts capture two Sprague wagons filled with hides.Later, the Sprague camp will be threatened by a bison stampede and a large 'Indian' war party. In contrast, the Jetts don't suffer from the bison, 'Indians', nor a reprisal from the Spragues. They are looking forward to more lucrative hide thievery during the early winter, as hide wagons get bogged down in deep snow.(Winter bison hides brought more money, as they were thicker-haired).But just then, as things are looking desperate for the Spragues, disaster hits the Jetts(see the film to find out their demise).
At the time this film was made, there were still only a relatively small number of American bison. Hence we didn't see any actual killings of bison, only stock footage of them being chased. In addition to the domestic market, there was a large European market for the hides at this time. They were especially valued as making a superior leather used as the belts for transferring steam power to machinery, as well as for personal items, such as hats, coats, boots and handbags.After the flesh disappeared, hunting parties returned to their killing fields to gather the bones, which were shipped east to make fertilizer and other products. Ironic that the meat, the most valued part of bison today, was the least valued under the technological conditions of those times(no refrigeration, no good substitute for machinery belts).
You may have noticed some rugged country in the foreground(especially the stage run) and background during parts of this film. Much of the action was filmed in the rugged Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, with the high Sierras in the background. This was a favored location for filming many westerns, including most of the Hopalong Cassidy series. The often rounded granite boulders and monoliths are geologically similar to the granite in the Sierras, and represent the peaks of granite bodies buried within the sediments of Owens Valley.
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