Straight Shooting (1917)

“The ranchers’ empire, a vast grazing land — a once endless territory now divided and cut by farmers’ fences.”

A cattle baron (Duke R. Lee) hires a gunslinger (Harry Carey) to kill a farmer (George Berrell) whose land is encroaching on his territory — but when he learns that Berrell’s son (Ted Brooks) has already been killed, and sees the grief this has caused Berrell’s beautiful daughter (Molly Malone), he quickly shifts allegiances.


Notable as “Jack” (John) Ford’s first surviving full-length film, this early western — featuring silent-era superstar Harry Carey — shows clear evidence of Ford’s directorial vision (at the tender age of 22!). He manages to turn an overly simplistic story about feuding between ranchers and farmers (along with a “bad-boy-turned-good” narrative twist, and a brief love triangle) into a reasonably entertaining outing — though in its hour-long running time, there’s not really much to sink one’s teeth into. Certainly worth a look, but not essential viewing for anyone other than diehard Ford fans and/or early-cinema buffs — though one could argue it’s “must-see” simply to see Carey in a flick.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Early evidence of Ford’s directorial vision

Must See?
No, though it will certainly be of interest to Ford fans and/or those interested in early cinematic history.


One Response to “Straight Shooting (1917)”

  1. A once-must, for its place in cinema history. First viewing.

    I wasn’t expecting much from this. But for a film just shy of being 100 years old (!), it has surprising energy and Ford’s directorial/visual sense is confident. Yes, it is a slight tale but it is well told (it’s edited especially well) and it easily holds interest. Ford knew quite well what he was doing, early on!

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