Zane Grey's Drift Fence (February 14, 1936)
Released on February 14, 1936: Zane Grey's classic tale of a city dude that has trouble taking over his ranch.
Directed by Otto Lovering
Written by Zane Grey with screenplay by Robert Yost and Stuart Anthony.
The Actors: Buster Crabbe (Slinger Dunn), Katherine DeMille (Molly Dunn), Tom Keene (Jim Travis), Benny Baker (Jim Traft), Leif Erickson (Curley Prentice), Stanley Andrews (Clay Jackson), Richard Carle (Sheriff Peter Bingham), Irving Bacon (Windy Watkins, Traft foreman), Effie Ellsler (Grandma Dunn), Jan Duggan (Carrie Bingham, the Sheriff's sister), Walter Long (Bev Wilson, neighbor), Richard Alexander (Seth Haverly, Jackson henchman), Budd Fine (Sam Haverly, Jackson henchman), Chester Gan (Clarence, ranch cook), Jack Pennick (Weary, camp cook), Curley Baldwin (man at dance), Ed Brady (Jackson henchman), Charles Brinley (barfly), Jack Clifford (rodeo announcer), Frank O'Connor (bartender at Mace's saloon),Don Roberts (guncheck room clerk), Henry Roquemore (rodeo judge), Tom Smith (man at dance).
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Zane Grey is famous for writing realistic tales of the old American West, and "Drift Fence" is one of his best. It combines a tale of cattlemen fighting the rustlers to survive, with enough danger, comedy and romance to keep everyone interested. Pop a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy a real peek at the lives of the American pioneer settlers of the old west.
Old man Traft has a cattle ranch in the west, but as he got older, he moved back east and left the running of his ranch to his hired hands. He tells his city-slicker nephew that the ranch will one day be his, and he needs to travel west and learn how to survive as a ranch owner. His is tasked to help the ranch hands build a drift fence to keep the cattle from drifting away and being stolen by a gang of rustlers. On his way to the ranch, he stops to watch a rodeo, and sits next to one of the best rodeo riders in the west. After meeting him, he convinces the rodeo expert to take over his identity for $100 a month and take his place on the ranch. When the rodeo man hears that Clay Jackson is the head of the rustlers that is stealing their cattle, he decides to take the city dude up on his offer.
The rest of the movie is a classic tale of the conflict between cattle men that want fences and law and order, cattle men that don't want fences, and the rustlers that want to steal and sell the cattle that honest ranchers raise. The character development is much richer and well developed than in most westerns. The women are as tough and tougher than the men, and the men are tough as nails in this tale of conflict and survival in the old west.