Before High Noon
, and True Grit
, there was a wilder, wider West on film. Treasures from the American Film Archives: Volume 5: The West (1898-1938)
, is a 10-hour set celebrating the dynamic, gender-bending, ethnically diverse West that flourished in early movies but has never before been seen on video.
Treasures 5 presents the American West as it was recorded and imagined in the first decades of motion pictures. Among the 40 selections are Mantrap (1926), the wilderness comedy starring Clara Bow in her favorite role; W.S. Van Dyke’s legendary The Lady of the Dugout (1918), featuring outlaw-turned-actor Al Jennings; Salomy Jane (1914), with America’s first Latina screen celebrity Beatriz Michelena; Gregory La Cava’s sparkling Old West–reversal Womanhandled (1925); Sessue Hayakawa in the cross-cultural drama Last of the Line (1914); one-reelers with Tom Mix and Broncho Billy, Mabel Normand in The Tourists (1912), and dozens of other rarities.
Treasures 5 showcases both narrative and nonfiction films. In addition to early Westerns, fascinating actuality films abound: travelogues from 10 western states including Seeing Yosemite with David A. Curry and the Fred Harvey Company’s The Indian-Detour; Kodachrome home movies; newsreels about Native Americans; and documentaries and industrial films about such Western subjects as cattle ranch-ing in Santa Monica, riding the rails along the Columbia River, how vaqueros made horsehair ropes, the birth of the canned fruit industry, and the beginning of the water wars. There are even vivid docudramas by crime-fighting lawmen: Bill Tilghman restaging his capture of the Wild Bunch and a Texas sheriff reliving his fight against ammunition smuggling on the Mexican border. For full list of films, visit the NFPF Web site, www.filmpreservation.org.
The motion pictures are drawn from the preservation work of the nation's foremost early film archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, and UCLA Film & Television Archive—and include movies recently repatriated from the New Zealand Film Archive. Many of the films have not been screened in decades. None has been available before in high-quality video.