Monday, June 7, 2021

Zane Grey Week -- Another George Plays Lassiter -- June 7, 2021

Motion Picture News, 21-May-1921

Zane Grey was a popular Western novelist in the first half of the Twentieth Century. I had read about movies made from his stories, so I took a few novels out from the Anza Branch Library. It turns out that he was not a very good writer, but he did produce interesting characters and descriptions.

I thought I might join with producer Benjamin B Hampton and have a Zane Grey Week.

One of the books that I read was his most popular, Riders of the Purple Sage. It introduced Lassiter, a classic Western hero. Aside from some startling anti-LDS business, Riders of the Purple Sage has a good story. 

Fox produced Riders, its sequel and two other Zane Grey movies in the late Teens and early 1920s with William Farnum playing the hero. Not many years later, Fox filmed the same set of stories starring Tom Mix. Then came the talkies, and Fox filmed the stories again with George O'Brien in the lead. Fox returned to its Zane Grey properties in 1941 and 1942.

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In The Last of the Duanes, George Montgomery played Buck Duane. Montgomery was a multi-talented artist who appeared in a lot of westerns. During World War Two he joined the US Army Air Force. William Farnum, who had played Buck Duane in the 1919 version, played a major in the Texas Rangers.

Newark Leader, 23-October-1941

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George Montgomery was the fourth actor to play Lassiter in a movie adaption of Riders of the Purple Sage. Instead of Mormons, the bad guys are crooked judges. 

Worcester Democrat and Ledger-Enterprise, 05-December-1941

I can safely say I have never heard of Pocomoke City, Maryland. 

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And then Fox threw us a curveball. They produced another version of The Lone Star Ranger, but they replaced George Montgomery with John Kimbro. Kimbro was a professional football player. The Lone Star Ranger was his second and last film. Why did they ditch George Montgomery? Perhaps Montgomery cost too much. I don't think George Montgomery left for the Army until 1943. William Farnum, the original Buck Duane, repeated the part he had played in the 1941 The Last of the Duanes.

And then Fox threw us another curveball. They did not produce a fourth remake of The Rainbow Trail

Publishers Weekly, 21-May-1921

Tomorrow: Riders on Television

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