15 December 2008 | boblipton
A New Contract
When Chaplin, Fairbanks, Pickford and Griffith were setting up United Artists in 1919, William S. Hart almost went along with them. But Paramount offered him a brand new contract, and he stayed with them..... and found the studio sabotaging him almost from the beginning of the new contract. He wanted to get away from his standard cowboy story and came up with this railroad story. They shelved it, got him to do something more usual, and then demanded a new ending for this movie. This was not unusual for Paramount. They invented block booking, and worked their stars very hard -- in one or two cases, to death: Wallace Reid, for example.
So, what is the net result for this William S. Hart programmer? It's an excellent piece. You get a lot more close-ups of Hart than usual, as he tones down his usually broad characterizations except when he is dealing with the fact that he has lost the girl he loves. There's a lot more stillness in his acting than usual, and, if takes a good long while before his cameraman, Joe August, gets to show us some good scenery and action, well, the story of conflict between old and new, of sense and compassion, love and honorable behavior is a well told tale, like all the Hart movies I have seen.