22 January 2005 | mfgen-consultant
The first Western in color.
This film premiered on 1st April 1930. The first sound Western in color. It survives as a single nitrate Technicolor print, faithfully copied by UCLA. The story of cattle rustling has a clever twist and the whole film greatly benefits from a lightweight approach. It opens in spectacular fashion. Frank Fay and his two followers ride into a small town Fiesta. Every possible shade of rose and sage green is flashed at the camera. Location filming richly enhances the photography. Typical Michael Curtiz direction brings arty shots of trees in shadow and an impressive location tracking shot for the finale. One single song is the theme tune of the film and becomes a motif for the film in a quite unexpected way. Some pre-code scenes involve a nude swimming scene and some adult references. It is a deliberately slow paced film, but the Technicolor gives the film a rich and glowing look. The whites are pearly, the reds rich and earthy, lending gorgeous close-ups of sun tanned female cast members. Fay is a forgotten star today, but his style has not dated because he treats the film partly as fun, which it is. A great pity that the film has been little seen (apart from infrequent archive screenings). It deserves a DVD release).