Three fugitives risk their lives to bring a newborn baby out of the desert to safety.Three fugitives risk their lives to bring a newborn baby out of the desert to safety.Three fugitives risk their lives to bring a newborn baby out of the desert to safety.
- (as Jean Kirchner)
- Prospector Dancing with Blackie
Forgotten 1930's Classic Western With Gripping Central Performance
In 1929 actor Chester Morris was nominated for an Oscar for his strong performance as an ex-con in Alibi; he spent a good deal of his life playing tough-guy roles, too often typecast in second-tier "B" roles; here, some six years later, he gives a dynamic, believable turn as the bad boy of the town, the man in black who revels in his nastiness, unredeemed by the love of a good woman or anyone else. He and two others pal up together to rob a bank during a church social, and run for the hills, there discovering a dying woman with a child; this could be a really silly melodramatic set-up, but director Richard Boleslawski knows what he is doing, knows how much melodrama to inject into a situation, is able to focus two of the best scene stealers in the business, Walter Brennan and Lewis Stone into producing distinctively compelling characters. This film is a remake of several silent versions, the most notable starring Charles Bickford in the Chester Morris role (and later, more sentimentally, by John Wayne in a color version from John Ford), but the sense of authenticity in the town scenes and the visually arresting desert scenery give the actors a canvas which they do not fail to brilliantly fill in. How often does a character in a Western film recite Macbeth's "Tomorrow" soliloquy from memory, or discuss the intricacies of Schopenhauer with a friendly but uncomprehending cowpoke? Lewis Stone manages a nice turn in his interchanges with Walter Brennan, himself putting the brakes on his usual cornball rustic. The transformation for Chester Morris from unregenerate bum to something admirable is powerfully done, and the intrusion of some 1930's sentiment not entirely unwelcome. In 1936, the Best Oscar nominees were Paul Muni, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, William Powell and Walter Huston; with a better agent, Chester Morris might have been among them.
- Nov 11, 2020
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