Monday, January 3, 2011

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for THREE WORD BRAND

First a few shorts

FELIX MINDS THE BABY (1922): Felix the Cat, one of the earliest cartoon stars, is starving. He tries to steal a fish from the market, but is kicked out. He finds a dad who is tearing out what hair he has left trying to entertain his baby. The baby likes Felix, so Felix has a babysitting job that will get him fed. Of course, the baby is a little tough to handle, and wackiness ensues.

THE PERILS OF PAULINE, EPISODE 4: THE DEADLY TURNING (1914): I've seen this one a few times at Niles. Pauline enters an auto race, her enemies plot to make her crash, but of course she turns the tables and escapes while they crash.

I'M ON MY WAY (1919): Another Niles favorite. Harold Lloyd is about to marry Bebe Daniels, but spending a little time with Snub Pollard, his heavy-set wife Margaret Joslin (both of whom worked for Essanay here in Niles), and their unruly children drive him crazy and cure him of the marriage bug.

Then a quick intermission, and on to the feature.

THREE WORD BRAND (1921): The iconic square-jawed William S. Hart plays a triple role in an exciting western drama. Early on, he plays settler Ben Trego. As he's set upon by Indians, he sends his young twin sons off, where they end up in an orphanage. Years later, one of the twins is 'Three Word' Brand (Hart), a cowboy who operates a simple ranch. His nickname comes from his tendency to speak little--he's the "listenin'est man in the county." His neighbor is an unscrupulous rancher, rustling his cattle and conspiring with the powers that be on a water deal that would bankrupt the other ranchers. However, there's a new Governor named Marsden (Hart) coming into power, and in the super-coincidence world that so many silent films take place in, he happens to be none other than Brand's long-lost twin. And when he finds out, rather than introducing himself and expecting brotherly love and help, he hatches a plan--his ranch hand will take Governor Marsden on a hunting trip that will show him the devastation of the water deal. Meanwhile, Brand will go to the capitol and pose as the Governor, vetoing the deal. A little illogical, but a whole lot of fun nonetheless.

Next Saturday, one of my favorites--THE LOST WORLD. Wallace Beery in a thrilling adventure based on an Arthur Conan Doyle novel and featuring the pre-King Kong stop motion animation of Willis O'Brien.

Total Running Time (estimated): 103 minutes
My Total Minutes: 218,301
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