Monday, June 24, 2013

Bucking Broadway

1917, US, directed by John Ford

I'm not at all familiar with Harry Carey's silent work -- this was one of a series of films featuring his Cheyenne Harry character, an affable, sometimes comical fellow. While it's mostly a pretty straightforward fish out of water story (or rather a double fish out of water story, with a city slicker's visit to Wyoming later matched by Harry's comical trip to New York), there are some beautiful touches in the first half particularly, capturing the beauty of the west and affording Carey several surprisingly subtle scenes, most notably when he has to ask for the hand of his beloved. The villain is drawn in broad strokes, and city living as a whole gets a bad rap, with the "genuine" country folk obviously to be preferred. I won't presume to see the hand of the future Ford at work here, except to note that the film is smartly paced, with ambitions that are occasionally hemmed in by technical restrictions (the camera can't move to capture the antics of a bucking bronco, with the result that the action disappears offscreen for several seconds at a time).

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States