29 August 2020 | mmipyle
Rex is a pleasure to watch, more so than the stars, but this is still fun
Arthritis and all hurting tonight, I dived anyway into "Guardians of the Wild" (1928) with Jack Perrin and his horse Starlight, Ethlyne Clair, Rex the Wonder Horse, Al Ferguson, Robert Homans, Bernard Siegel, Louise Carver, and others. My print from Grapevine is beautifully tinted and gorgeously photographed by Virgil Miller and George Robinson. Perrin sits a horse well, but otherwise is about as interesting as a cowboy as watching tumbleweeds blow through a desert valley. Nevertheless, here he's a forest ranger, one who has his eyes on Ethlyne Clair. She has her eyes on him, too. But, there's trouble on the range, and her father's ranch is being sought by a baddie in a bad way... Clair needs to go back to Boston while things are sorted out. Well, her father gets in trouble deep...I say, in trouble deep...and wounded bad...and...then there's a fire in the forest...and the daughter - who's come back home and been captured - well...you figure out the rest. BUT...if you didn't put Rex in the formula to solve everything at all times for everyone, then you missed the point of the film. This one was made for the kiddies on Saturday afternoon, but it plays equally well for seventy year old wonderlings just before beddie-by. Not bad really. I'll raise it from 5 out of 10 to 6. Just to be fair to the cast, the best acting honors go to Al Ferguson. When he's bad, he's bad, and he's really good at being bad.
One coda: beware of Bernard Siegel. Here he plays a Chinois who is servant to Robert Homans (playing Ethlyne Clair's father), and he plays the part as one less than the dust. It's a sort of comical (for 1928) servant to Homans, though it's not funny at all today. Obviously, Siegel's not Chinese, though the character is based on a type that probably was quite real from 1850-1915. Siegel himself plays the part as Won Long Hop. He's plays all over the board before and after this in characters of all sorts, with names such as Tew Fick Pasha, Felipe Varillo, Manuel, Joseph Buquet (in 1925's "Phantom of the Opera"), Toddy Nokin, Do Etin, Schwarz, Chief Brave Bear, Chahi, Verressjeff...well, you get the drift. He played the parts that today one has to be careful to cast. Though not very PC, he's a fine actor. Born in what is modern day Ukraine, he died in Hollywood in 1940 at the age of 72.