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Jim (Francis Ford) and Billy (Edith Storey) "Billy and His Pal" is a
very early silent--and because it's so early, I'll cut it some slack
when it comes to the plot. As the other reviewer has pointed out, it is
pretty weak in regard to the story---which is very, very, very simple.
The story begins with Jim and his young pal, Billy, joking around. Soon, Jim leaves and sees a Mexican bandit trying to molest some lady. Jim, being a hero, intervenes and beats up the villain. Of course, the Bandito is determined to get revenge and he assembles his gang and they kidnap poor 'ol Jim. They WOULD end up killing Jim if it wasn't for his old pal, and Billy rounds up some help to save the day. That's really all there is to this one and while 15 sounds short, the film could have been made is less than 10 and it would have played better. But, as I said above, the film is very early and so the lulls that occur are understandable. Not brilliant but watchable.
BILLY AND HIS PAL is clearly meant to be a comedy, although it may take
you a while to untangle that fact if you look at it without warning.
Edith Storey plays Billy in drag, lending a piquant tension to Billy's
friendship with Francis Ford. Ford was the elder brother of John Ford
and a major actor-director in the mid-teens. He got his kid brother a
job and although he continued to play major supporting roles through
the 1930s, is today best remembered for eccentric bits in John Ford
pictures; my mental image of him is as the old Irishman who rises from
his deathbed to witness the titanic battle between John Wayne and
Victor McLaglen in THE QUIET MAN.
Anyway, Francis, a good looking galoot, is courting a young woman, but various Mexican-looking individuals decide to do him dirt. So they tie him up at the bottom of an arroyo and then go dig out a boulder to bounce off his head. Before they can manage this Herculean task, Billy has alerted the cowpokes who ride to the rescue, with Bily bringing up the rear on a burro.
It's pretty idiotic, which makes me think it a comedy. It's also not funny and at fifteen minutes is way too long. The photography is pretty good, with some very nice landscape photography. It's unlikely to be worth your time.If you think it might be, take a look at the National Film Preservation website. They have it online with a nice rustic-sounding score.
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