Steven Ghent has decided to sell the mine he's owned for fifteen years, located at the border of Mexico where the Great Divide ends. When the representatives are delayed for a few days, he ...
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Steven Ghent has decided to sell the mine he's owned for fifteen years, located at the border of Mexico where the Great Divide ends. When the representatives are delayed for a few days, he visits the annual Fiesta for the last time, and he encounters Ruth Jordan, the daughter of his long-dead partner, and discovers that she is a decadent, world-weary society girl. He decides that she's in need of reforming, and that a dose of the Greats Outdoors might do it - so he kidnaps her.Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Worth seeing just to see Myrna Loy playing a fiery Mexican-American!
Despite Myrna Loy's wonderful niche as a smart, sweet and somewhat sexy girl-next-door type in the 1930s and 40s, early in her career MGM had no idea what to do with this actress and had her appearing in many bizarre roles--roles which today just seem ludicrous. But hindsight is 20/20...although it's easy to laugh at her playing Chinese ladies ("Mask of Fu Manchu"), a murderess ("Thirteen Women"), the witch, Morgan le Fe ("A Connecticut Yankee") and a Mexican-American with a crazy accent here in this film. This is reason enough to see this early western talkie as Loy seldom made bad films or embarrassed herself like she did in this one! It is fortunate that TCM showed the sound version...otherwise so much of her odd performance would have been lost!
Speaking of sound. 1929 was still early in the talking picture business and the sound here is scratchy. Additionally, they decided to make this a singing cowboy sort of western and the songs are pretty crappy. I don't hold this against the film...the medium was young and the sound was tinny in all movies in 1929. In fact, to have singing they hadn't even worked out having the singers sing to recorded music and they had to literally have an orchestra just off camera playing live to have music in films! So cut the film a bit of slack...even when the hero sings with his incredibly high voice and when Myrna croons (though I doubt if she's actually singing)!
As for the plot, Steven (Ian Keith) is going to sell his mine located near the Mexican border and move. So, he decides to go to the local fiesta for one last time and there meets Ruth (Dorothy Mackaill) and is shocked that she is a haughty, decadent jerk- face...and she also happens to be the daughter of his old partner that died long ago. Deciding to teach her a lesson and make her a better person, he does what any normal, sane person would do...he kidnaps her!! He thinks that forcing this spoiled lady to spend life in the great outdoors is just what's needed to reform Ruth!* Fortunately, she comes down with a case of the Stockholm Syndrome and all is well by the end of the picture.
So is all this any good? Well, for 1929 it's okay. When seen today, it comes off as silly and very dated. The actors tried hard (Myrna tried TOO hard) and such silly and inconsequential films would become passé even by 1932 or 1933. Worth seeing if you are a film historian or you like seeing famous stars in god-awful performances...otherwise it's an easy film to skip.
*NOTE: Do NOT take Steven's advice! Although this invariably works out just fine in films, you're likely to earn at least 10-15 years in prison for such a lesson! Kidnapping is wrong...and punishable in a Federal penitentiary. Repeat after me...'Kidnapping is against the law and punishment will be swift and sure'.
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