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The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)

While building an irrigation system for a Southwestern desert community, an engineer vies with a local cowboy for the affections of a rancher's daughter.



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Credited cast:
... Willard Holmes
... Barbara Worth
... Abe Lee
Charles Lane ... Jefferson Worth
Paul McAllister ... The Seer
E.J. Ratcliffe ... James Greenfield
... Tex
Erwin Connelly ... Pat Mooney
... McDonald
Sammy Blum ... Horace Blanton
... George Cartwright
Bill Patton ... Little Rosebud (as William Patton)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Odel Conley ... Minor Role


Jefferson Worth finds an orphaned child in the desert and raises her as his daughter, Barbara. When grown, Barbara is beloved by Abe Lee, the foreman of her father's ranch and company. When a rich land developer arrives with plans to irrigate the desert, Worth joins forces with him. The developer's foster son, Willard, falls for Barbara and a rivalry develops between him and Abe. The river is dammed, but the developer swindles the ranchers and refuses to reinforce the weakening dam, as he no longer needs it. An angry mob turns on Worth, Willard and Abe come near confrontation over Barbara, and all the time, that dam is getting weaker.... Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What was the most eloquent word uttered in the language of the desert?


Drama | Romance | Western






Release Date:

14 October 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Entfesselte Elemente  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


At its premiere revival presentation at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on 11 May 1971, Vilma Bánky was a no show, but the only two other surviving members of the cast, Clyde Cook and Glen Walters were present in the audience, along with other film notables. The organ accompaniment on the DVD is that of Gaylord Carter actually recorded that evening during the presentation. See more »


[first lines]
Title card: Sunk into the Earth like a great molten bowl, lay the desert - unconquered Empress of the Wilderness - beautiful - mysterious - merciless. A tawny siren, whispering promises of a Paradise beyond - crushing out the lives of men in its poisonous embrace.
See more »


Featured in Hollywood: Out West (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

An Inferior Dam
16 February 2010 | by See all my reviews

During the silent screen years Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky were a popular screen team and The Winning Of Barbara Worth was their first film together. Neither Colman or Banky was particularly happy with doing a western and certainly neither are players you would think of for a western. But in the days of the silent screen you could not hear Colman's cultured English tones or Banky's thick Hungarian accent which killed her career in sound films.

The Winning Of Barbara Worth is a modern western set in 1926 Arizona where Banky's father is the local head honcho in a small town. Father Charles Lane has a dream of building a dam and irrigating the desert and turning it into an agricultural paradise. But he puts his trust and the hard earned cash of his people into the hands of the unscrupulous E.J. Ratcliffe who cut many corners and built one inferior dam. His chief engineer Ronald Colman points that out to him and his fired for his trouble.

Undaunted, Colman gets new backing from millionaire Fred Esmelton and goes to work on a new dam. Which does not fit in Ratcliffe's plans and he tries to stop Colman by fair means or foul.

Colman also has eyes for Banky, but she's already got Gary Cooper courting her. And Coop's the jealous type and does not think Colman is on the up and up.

Henry King whose career in films spanned over 40 years and was the top contract director at 20th Century Fox during sound did a great job both with his live players and the cinematography. The overflowing dam and subsequent flood was of DeMille like quality.

Maybe Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky aren't what many would consider western names, but that sure can't be said about Gary Cooper for whom this was his first featured role. Coop had done many bit roles in silents up to this time, but he was a complete unknown at this time and The Winning Of Barbara Worth was his first part with billing. You probably could not have made this film during sound with the voices of Colman and Banky, but when Cooper uttered his first screen words in Wolf Song, this man's voice perfectly suited the characters he had been playing on the screen already. In fact both Colman and Cooper went on to far bigger careers because of sound unlike poor Vilma Banky who barely spoke any English.

In the scenes he's in Gary Cooper steals the film and there was no doubt this man was going to be a major star. The Winning Of Barbara Worth holds up very well as drama and with Gary Cooper a star was born.

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