Tumbleweeds (1925)

“The only land I’ll settle down on will be under a tombstone.”

Tumbleweeds Poster

Synopsis:
A rancher (William S. Hart) hoping to stake a claim in a land run and then marry his sweetheart (Barbara Bedford) is falsely accused by Bedford’s nefarious brother (Richard R. Neill) of being a ‘sooner’, and imprisoned just as the run is about to start; will he get out in time to claim his new property?

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Review:
Stoic performer William S. Hart was among the most popular and beloved stars of the silent western era (he acted in no less than 75 films, and directed 53) — though most modern film fanatics are likely unfamiliar with his work or his presence. This title was the last film Hart made before retiring, and is generally considered one of the best in its genre; it’s based upon the classic western trope of ranchers versus settlers, but given added gravitas due to being situated within a specific historical time and place, the 1893 Cherokee Strip Land Run in Oklahoma (also immortalized on screen in both the 1931 and the 1960 versions of Edna Ferber’s Cimarron). The film itself doesn’t offer many surprises — other than the fact that Hart’s character isn’t entirely pure and good (he’s not above breaking the law when necessary) — but it’s finely paced and directed, and short enough (at just 78 minutes) to hold one’s attention throughout.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography
    Tumbleweeds Cinematography
  • The impressive land run sequence
    Tumbleweeds Land Grab

Must See?
Yes, simply to see iconic western star William S. Hart in one of his better films.

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One Response to “Tumbleweeds (1925)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, but it will be of interest to those with a particular bent toward westerns.

    I’d not seen a Hart film before, though I had often heard his name – esp. when it was referenced in docs about film history.

    Having now seen this representative film of his, I don’t find it particularly unique as a film – and there’s not really anything in it that continues to resonate (unlike, say, some of John Ford’s work from the same period).

    It’s clear why audiences of its day enjoyed Hart’s persona – and the extended penultimate sequence in ‘Tumbleweeds’ was no doubt thrilling to those seeing it upon its release.

    But I don’t think this is a film that ffs need to be sure to see.

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