12 April 2010 | JohnHowardReid
The Best of All the Silent "B" Westerns!
Jack Hoxie's "The Forbidden Trail" (1923) was made by his usual team (including assistant director Pierce, who probably also doubled as one of the outlaws). It rates as one of the best silent westerns I've ever seen. And reading the review in "The Motion Picture News Booking Guide" doubles my enthusiasm. I didn't realize Hoxie was playing a dual role. I even ran this footage twice to check another point – and I still didn't tumble to the fact. The MPNBG also tells us that Bradbury not only wrote the script (including the titles) and directed, but edited as well. I intended to comment on the absolutely brilliant way this movie is edited. Best of all, although there's a small amount of stock rodeo footage that was undoubtedly of poor quality to begin with, the movie itself never dips below 5/10 and more to the point, most of the extended final action rates at least 7/10. And this superbly filmed, quadruple action climax includes one of the most thrilling on-camera stunts I've ever seen. It took my breath away! The players are in terrific form too. Hoxie, as implied earlier, is a much under-rated actor. Frank Rice is Hoxie's sidekick again, but he doesn't out-stay his welcome here; the delightfully menacing secondary villain, billed as Bill Lester, is actually prolific "B" director, William Berke, while Joe McDermott does chilling service to the ruthless, if charismatic chief heavy; and last but definitely not least, super-fascinating Evelyn Nelson makes a most unusual heroine. Hoxie, Bradbury and I love her hair! Alas, her attempt to repeat this success in her next and final movie, "Desert Rider" (1923), failed. N.B. The MPNBG credits the photography to Jack Brown. This is incorrect. The photographer was Bert Longenecker.