User Reviews (5)

Add a Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    The taming of the west need not revolve around the polarity of Indian against cavalry; it could simply be part of the background, the deus ex machina required to bring about certain events in the plot. As I outline in my biography of Thomas Ince, quickly in his career the use of the western formula became more complex and involved other genres.

    In The Struggle (Broncho, 1913) a prospector and his son Bob depart from home in the morning, while the wife, at home, offers food to a passing stranger. His shifting eyes reveal his nature; he assaults her, and although her husband and son return in time to save her, the father is killed in the ensuing fight. The stranger gets away, but five years later Bob, now a government scout, recognizes the stranger just as he is accused of cheating at cards. A series of camera shots reveal that it is this man, rather than Bob, who shoots the stranger, but no one else realizes this and the sheriff accuses Bob. Even when Bob explains the stranger's murder of his father, and how his mother died of grief shortly thereafter, he finds little sympathy.

    Desperate, he flees, assuring his guilt in the eyes of others. However, a week later, seeing Indians attack a stage, he must save it, even though it means he will be retaken at the fort. In the manner of Ince's Indian Massacre a year earlier, a single incident leads to a spiral of events that ripple steadily outward, encompassing steadily more individuals and aspects of society. The broadening scope of the plot of The Struggle is reflected in a series of shifting visuals, from the prospector's cabin, to the fort, the saloon of the shooting, the plains of Indian ambush, and the bed where the real killer died revealing his guilt to the doctor. On the way for trial, Indians ambush Bob and the sheriff, who must be saved by his captive.

    Meanwhile the real killer has confessed by the time they return to the fort, proving it by noting the stranger was shot by a different caliber bullet than Bob had. The ease with which a miscarriage of justice so nearly occurred, despite Bob's morality and courage, undercut the narrative norms of the western genre.
  • boblipton13 September 2018
    While father and son are out prospecting, a mysterious stranger comes calling at the shack. After the daughter of the house feeds him, he assaults her. The men return iin time, but the father is killed. Some time later the son, played by Bob Morrow, is an army scout. He spots the stranger during a bar fight and the stranger is killed. Bob is blamed and in the West you can't kill a White man in a bar fight. He escapes, runs into Indians -- them you can kill -- returns to the army, is taken by the sheriff.... more Indians.

    The print I saw was dupy and worn and the titles just about illegible, but this half-hour short is a typically fine Ince production for 1913, with fine costumes, sets, camerawork and acting. There are also a couple of major battle pieces, but it is the acting that really stands out, particularly by E.H. Allen as the pleasantly dour sheriff. He didn't act in many movies, but he has a place in cinema history for producing the Educational Pictures shorts in the mid-1930s that started Buster Keaton on his long road back.
  • This two-reel offering begins with the villain in terrific hand to hand conflict with a woman, a boy and a man. The latter he murders. Five years later, in the midst of exciting scenes, the boy avenges his father's death, almost at the expense of his own life. The run of the stagecoach is shown by theatrical devices which seem a little unnecessary in the open country. The desert scenes are good and the manner in which the boy prisoner helps the sheriff fight off the Indians is well pictured. There are many thrills in this. - The Moving Picture World, January 25, 1913
  • Thomas Ince had been making westerns during this period. In this one, while the father and teen boy are prospecting for gold, the mother is at home taking care of it while a stranger comes over and is offered food. After finishing his meal, he then takes advantage of the mother's generosity and starts to kiss her which she then slaps him so he then becomes even more violent with her. The boy witnesses this and tells the father. I'll stop there and just mention that a few years pass after that sequence so the boy grows up and then has to deal with some consequences as well as an Indian attack. Ince keeps the action going throughout for some exciting moments. Not great but The Struggle is a rousing time passer.
  • Last night I decided to re-visit an early drama/Western, "The Struggle" (1913), a Thomas Ince produced and directed film with Elmer Morrow, Richard Stanton, E. H. Allen, and others, including an unnamed lead female whose name seems not to be known. This became the stuff of potboilers for decades, but this is an early example of a story really well told. It opens with Morrow as a youngster, perhaps just entering his teen years (and played by an unnamed actor) who goes out with his father to help his father, leaving his sister inside to do chores in a shack that has few amenities except the love that the inhabitants put as an aura around it. While out, a stranger comes to visit, evidently asking for a meal. He's a dusty traveler, and he tries to ingratiate himself to the sister, but after a meal instead begins to try to make love to her. She tries to resist, but is forced to scream for help, which her son hears as he returns for something to take back to the work he and his father are doing. The son tries to interfere and help his mother, but is unable to fend off a vicious attack, but he escapes, runs back to his father who comes back to help his wife, but then is killed by the stranger who also beats up the son. Five years later we see a grown son who's now a scout for the army. On a jaunt to town he goes into a saloon and runs into a drunk who causes a scene which Morrow tries to smooth over by acceding to the drunk's request for "just one more". While inside a fight breaks out among four card players, one of whom Morrow recognizes as the man who accosted his mother and killed his father five years before. During the scuffle, someone shoots the man Morrow recognizes as his father's killer. Unfortunately, Morrow is accused of the murder, and the sheriff comes to take him to justice.

    The next section deals with Morrow on the loose and having to fight Apaches on the warpath who try to take his life. Though this all sounds clichéd today, this must have been very exciting to early 20th century filmgoers only twenty to thirty years removed from incidents that actually occurred like this one. Of course, the pitting of white settlers against native tribes was already a trope in the early 1910s and before, and this would become a staple for Western films for decades in the future. This film is only about 30 minutes long, so three reels approximately, but it takes the story in directions that had only been touched upon a little in the few years before in which such themes had been shown.

    After this battle, Morrow is again in the clutches of the sheriff, but now both are attacked by the Apaches. All the while this is going on, we have Morrow's girl, played by the anonymous actress, wondering what can be done to save her innocent guy. Her father is the commandant of the fort of soldiers in the surrounding area. He is seemingly helpless in his ability to save Morrow. Just as Morrow and the sheriff are about to be killed by the Apaches, soldiers from the fort show up to save them. Meanwhile, a dying man has confessed on his deathbed that he killed the man in the fight in the bar. A signed confession is rushed to the fort as the injured sheriff and Morrow are being helped after their battle with the Apache renegades.

    The story sounds perhaps trite, but upon my watching this for the second time seems even better than before. It's well told, well directed, and the scenery is rough and tough and very real, the kind of mise-en-scene that Broncho Billy Anderson used in his early Westerns and the kind of thing one eventually saw, too, in the films of William S. Hart only a couple of years later. Thomas Ince in his early films did a remarkable job of simply giving great entertainment value to his customers. The acting still had some touches of nineteenth century histrionics, but for the most part these actors do a very commendable job. Well worth the watch!

    Produced by the Broncho Film company for distribution by Mutual Films.