“The only land I’ll settle down on will be under a tombstone.”
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?
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
- The impressive land run sequence
Yes, simply to see iconic western star William S. Hart in one of his better films.