“Out here, stealin’s about the lowest, the meanest thing a man can do.”
A cowboy (Gary Cooper) engaged to a local school marm (Mary Brian) must decide how to handle the fact that his good friend (Richard Arlen) is a cattle rustler working in cahoots with a leader named Trampas (Walter Huston).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Gary Cooper Films
- Victor Fleming Films
- Walter Huston Films
It’s always interesting reading reviews of the first talkies to emerge on screen — in this case, Victor Fleming’s adaptation of Owen Wister’s 1902 novel. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times starts off his review by noting that “the voices are nicely modulated and the acting pleasingly restrained”, and later adds that “it is evident that the calling upon players to deliver lines causes them to give firm, understanding interpretations of their respective roles, far more so than they ordinarily would do in a silent film.” These days, The Virginian comes across as creaky but reasonably effective (other than concluding with an unsatisfying resolution). Cooper is fine in his breakthrough role, and Brian — once dubbed “The Sweetest Girl in Pictures”, and perhaps best known for her role in The Front Page (1931) — is appropriately plaintive yet feisty as his love interest.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gary Cooper in an early role
No; you can skip this one unless you’re curious to see Cooper in his first talkie. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.