FROM BUCK JONES TO MAE WEST: CINESATION 2013

FIVE FILMS FROM CINESATION PRESENTED BY THE GREAT LAKES CINEPHILE SOCIETY IN MASSILLON, OHIO, SEPTEMBER 26-29

Sundown Rider
Lambert Hillyer
1932
-with Buck Jones

The last shot presents us the backs of our cowboy hero and his heroine.  He puts his hand on her back just above her waist.  He slides his hand up in short stages until it reaches her shoulder.  Fade-out.  There has been neither kiss nor clinch.  These two throughout the running time have only chatted and smiled.   This is the extent to which Sundown Rider embodies one of the hallmarks of the Hollywood western. We know he’s going to kiss the girl but let’s  not see him do it.  The film includes as well the stranger riding in; the first view of the girl we know he’ll discover; and the town bigwigs who are more corrupt than the town knows.  But this is an excellent motion picture.   There is a saloon gunfight, one of the best I can recall, which is without dialogue all visual.

In one sequence our hero is about to be branded by a gang of lawmen turned vigilantes who think he’s a rustler.  As one of them approaches, aiming the iron at Buck’s forehead, there is a cut to the real villains, riding silently away , then a return to the scene, the branding accomplished.

The sundown of the title is important to the plot.  It is a mortgage deadline  —  a mortgage to make or break the heroine and save or end a way of life.    There is something genuinely cinematic as the characters, inside, watch the sun through a window while outside the camera watches the sky.

The Cinesation program notes describe Buck Jones as “the only silent screen cowboy to make it big in sound westerns” and quotes William K. Everson as saying that Jones “was a serious actor” who “chose stories and scripts with a sobriety in them that was almost Hart-like…”

Sundown Rider is proof.  Serious film.  Good western.

NEXT POST:    FIVE FILMS continued:  More from Cinesation 2013.

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NEWS OF VIVIEN LEIGH

In November Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Vivien Leigh’s birth in Darjeeling, India.  From Dark Journey and Storm in a Teacup of 1937 to Ship of Fools in 1965, TCM is showing 11 of her 19 films.  The TCM November calendar features a beautiful color portrait of her as the timeless Scarlett.

NEXT POST Friday October 25
Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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