Sunday, June 6, 2021

Zane Grey Week -- Riders as a Talkie -- June 6, 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. 

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Fox had adopted the Movietone sound-on-film system, which made it easier to shoot out-of-doors than  did the Warner Brothers' Vitaphone sound-on-disk system. Fox began to produce talkie Westerns like In Old Arizona, the first Cisco Kid movie. This made it natural for Fox to look again at its Zane Grey properties. 

Variety, 19-June-1929

Fox started with The Lone Star Ranger. "Zane Grey's first talking picture. Out-door recording which only Fox Movietone has successfully achieved..." 

Screenland, April, 1930

Buck Duane was played by George O'Brien, a big, well-built guy who was perfect for Westerns. His father was a former San Francisco Chief of Police. George was an excellent horseman. Leading lady Sue Carol later became a talent agent and married Alan Ladd.

New Movie, January, 1930

Not only was The Lone Star Ranger shot with sound and shot outdoors, but parts of it were shot on location in Utah.

Motion Picture News, 31-May-1931

Fox followed The Lone Star Ranger with another adaption of The Last of the Duanes, also starring George O'Brien. Myra Loy was there, but she was not the leading lady. What were they thinking?

Washington Evening Star, 18-May-1921

George's leading lady was Lucile Browne. I would have gone for Myrna Loy.

Motion Picture Herald, 26-September-1931

Fox followed The Last of the Duanes with another adaption of Riders of the Purple Sage. George's leading lady Marguerite Churchill had been in John Wayne's first starring picture, The Big Trail.

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Following its standard process, Fox then filmed the sequel to Riders, The Rainbow Trail, also starring George O'Brien. leading lady Cecilia Parker later played Andy Hardy's sister in the M-G-M series.

Washington Evening Star, 07-September-1930

Watuga Democrat, 28-September-1933

In 1933, one year after The Rainbow Trail, Fox starred George O'Brian in its third adaption of The Last Trail. George played Tom Dane. I can't find much promotional material for it. This was its last appearance as a movie.

Publishers Weekly, 30-April-1921

Tomorrow: Another George Plays Lassiter

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