The Painted Desert (March 7, 1931)

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The Painted Desert
 

Released March 7, 1931: The adopted son of two quarrelling cowboys tries to mend the differences between the two men but their hatred may run deeper than he can handle.

Directed by E.B. Derr

Directed by Howard Higgin

The Actors: William Boyd (Bill Holbrook), William Farnum (Bill 'Cash' Holbrook), Helen Twelvetrees (Mary Ellen Cameron), Clark Gable (Rance Brett), J. Farrell MacDonald (Jeff Cameron), Charles Sellon (Tonopah), Hugh Adams ('Dynamite'), Wade Boteler (ore wagon #1 driver), Will Walling (Kirby), Edmund Breese (Judge Matthews), Edward Hearn (Tex), William Le Maire (Denver), and Richard Cramer (ore wagon #1 shotgun rider)

 

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Two Cowboys and a Baby, or Who's Your Daddy?

Spoiler Alert: I am going to tell you the ending of this story . . . . OK . . . . Not the final ending, but with sixty seconds left on the film I will describe the scene. . . . But first the set-up.

As our amazing adventure opens in this very early ‘talkie’ two grizzled buddies are heading west when they discover the remains of a covered wagon that was attacked by Injuns, and inside they hear the cry of a little baby. The two cowboys decide to care for the little baby boy as their own, but before long they quarrel and the two friends split up, with one of them taking the baby boy with him. These two men will be sworn enemies for the rest of this story.

We rejoin the story twenty years later and discover that the man who didn’t get the baby boy now has a twenty year old daughter, and they make a living by selling the water from their wells to cattle ranchers taking their herd to town. . . . You see, their water hole is the only water between the northern grazing lands and the southern market, and without the stop for fresh water at the Cameron place the herds would lose cattle to thirst before they could get to market, and that means losing money. Every cattle rancher in the north is welcome at the Cameron spread except one . . . Cattle man Cash Holbrook, Jeff Cameron’s old friend who stole the baby boy, is not welcome.

Cash Holbrook and his now twenty year old boy Bill cannot use the water . . . . Ever. This story is richer in plot than most cowboy stories, with many intricate twists and turns, so I won’t attempt to take you further down the story plot . . . . But I will tell you, as you probably would figure very soon, that the twenty year old orphan boy will fall in love with the twenty year old daughter of his adopted dad’s worst enemy. And I will describe the almost-ending . . . A classic ‘meet me in the middle of the street and one of us will kill the other’ shootout with a very different outcome.

The two old friends, who have been sworn enemies for twenty years, meet outside the Silver Dollar Saloon and as they see each other they both begin to draw their guns . . . . As their guns come out of their holsters their eyes meet and their hatred is clear . . . . Suddenly son Bill comes out of the saloon and walks between them . . . . Just as they both fire their guns . . . . Son Bill drops to the ground with blood spurting from his body . . . . .

And now let me tell you about two future movie stars in this story. William Boyd is the ‘son’ in the story, and in a couple of years he will become one of the most famous cowboy movie stars ever, as he becomes Hopalong Cassidy in 66 movies that almost every youngster in the 1930’s and 1940’s eagerly watched at the movie theater. After 54 movies as Hopalong Cassidy, producer Harry Sherman closed down production and ended the series. William Boyd then asked the movie studio if he could purchase all of his movies and the rights to the character and everything else associated with Hopalong Cassidy. He put up every penny he had and purchased the Hopalong Cassidy series, and went on to personally produce twelve more movies. He then marketed Hopalong Cassidy to a small company making steel lunch boxes for little children, and the little lunch boxes with pictures of Hopalong Cassidy were so popular that he became wealthy beyond belief, and the little company that made the lunch boxes went on to promote other movie and then television stars on lunch boxes. Fortunately for us, William Boyd either forgot to renew the copyright on the Hopalong Cassidy movies in the 28th year, or didn’t even realize that it was necessary, so that great series of cowboy stories can now be seen by anyone in the world at any time of the day or night, and his fame is increasing again today, many decades after his death.

There was another notable actor in this movie also. Clark Gable had acted in several silent movies but this was his first ‘talking’ movie. You may not recognize his young face in this story, but his voice is unmistakable. In this story he is Rance Brett, who also wants the affections of the pretty young lady in the story. After this movie, with his unique voice and stoic personality he will skyrocket to fame within months. Now you can pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the rest of the ending.

William Boyd and Clark Gable
William Boyd and Clark Gable
Helen Twelvetrees and Bill Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and Bill Boyd
William Boyd and J. Farrell MacDonald
William Boyd and J. Farrell MacDonald
William Farnum and William Boyd
William Farnum and William Boyd
William Boyd and Helen Twelvetrees
William Boyd and Helen Twelvetrees
Charles Sellon and Clark Gable
Charles Sellon and Clark Gable
Charles Sellon and Helen Twelvetrees
Charles Sellon and Helen Twelvetrees
Clark Gable
Clark Gable
Clark Gable and William Boyd
Clark Gable and William Boyd
Clark Gable, William Farnum and Bill Boyd
Clark Gable, William Farnum and Bill Boyd
Clark Gable
Clark Gable
Clark Gable
Clark Gable
Edmund Breese
Edmund Breese
Guy Edward Hearn
Guy Edward Hearn
Helen Twelvetrees, William Boyd and William Le Maire
Helen Twelvetrees, William Boyd and William Le Maire
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and Charles Sellon
Helen Twelvetrees and Charles Sellon
Helen Twelvetrees and J. Farrell MacDonald
Helen Twelvetrees and J. Farrell MacDonald
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees and William Boyd
Helen Twelvetrees
Helen Twelvetrees
Hugh Adams, J. Farrell MacDonald and Charles Sellon
Hugh Adams, J. Farrell MacDonald and Charles Sellon
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald and Charles Sellon
J. Farrell MacDonald and Charles Sellon
J. Farrell MacDonald and Clark Gable
J. Farrell MacDonald and Clark Gable
J. Farrell MacDonald, Clark Gable and Helen Twelvetrees
J. Farrell MacDonald, Clark Gable and Helen Twelvetrees
J. Farrell MacDonald and Clark Gable
J. Farrell MacDonald and Clark Gable
J. Farrell MacDonald and William Boyd
J. Farrell MacDonald and William Boyd
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald
Wade Boteler, Clark Gable and William Le Maire
Wade Boteler, Clark Gable and William Le Maire
William Boyd and Edmund Breese
William Boyd and Edmund Breese
William Boyd and J. Farrell MacDonald
William Boyd and J. Farrell MacDonald
William Boyd and Wade Boteler
William Boyd and Wade Boteler
William Boyd and William Farnum
William Boyd and William Farnum
William Boyd and William Farnum
William Boyd and William Farnum
William Farnum
William Farnum
William Farnum and Will Walling
William Farnum and Will Walling
William Farnum
William Farnum
William Farnum
William Farnum