17 January 2018 | morrisonhimself
Historical; often more interesting than entertaining; often muddled, but exciting
"Straight Shooting" is of historical interest for many reasons, including the grouping of Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson, and John Ford.
Even this early in his career, Ford knew how to frame a shot, and many a beautiful shot here involved framing in doorways and windows.
Carey's character seemed often modeled on those so frequently portrayed by William S. Hart, whom Carey in some ways copied: both were Easterners who wanted to be Westerners, and both beautifully presented to us a picture of the rugged and basically decent character we want to think of as the essential Westerner.
Hoot Gibson was about 25 here but looked younger. He never was especially good-looking but he was always, in every movie I've seen him in, likable, and always one of the greatest of cowboys. At this stage, he'd been in pictures for about seven years.
Providing the love interest, but also much more, was a lovely young lady -- though at age 29 not so young as the part she played -- who frequently reminded me of the wonderful Mae Marsh. She seems to be relatively unknown although she has 88 credits here at IMDb, all in silent films.
So, yes, there is motion picture history here, the early years of some movie icons, a foreshadowing of some great careers, but the editing ... oy.
Many early movies suffered from some scenes, frequently static, that seemed to run on and on and on. Even D.W. Griffith allowed some pointless, non-moving shots to just hang, for no apparent reason.
Here we have the exact opposite problem. Probably because of sloppy editing, far too many scenes or angles are just cut off. It's hard to tell who is doing what to whom, and why. Even in the middle of the big battle, people aim, others fall, and it is confusing as to who is who and whether we should care: bad guys or good guys?
Yet, some other scenes, of Cheyenne Harry just staring, do go on and on, a fairly amateurish effort at showing the character pondering ... and pondering ... and pondering. By no means just once.
Perhaps, too, at least part of the problem is the version presented at YouTube. Though official run time is listed as 57 minutes, the version I saw is 2 hours and 13 minutes! For who-knows-what-reason, after "The End," the middle of the movie starts again! (Frankly, at YouTube, many a movie is uploaded by a liar or an incompetent, or both! And there seems to be no way to get YouTube to call down the offender.)
"Straight Shooting" is a movie every Western fan, every John Ford fan, every Harry Carey fan, every Hoot Gibson fan -- and each of those includes me -- should watch, if only for the chance to see the early years of their film work.
More than that, though, it is a good story, with good characterizations, and so intriguing in the directing.
There is a lot of evidence of D.W. Griffith influence, and at least one shot seems directly taken from "The Birth of a Nation." But "Straight Shooting" is generally exciting as well as interesting and very definitely worth watching.