10 Classics to see for the first time in 2015.
A couple of years ago I watched THE IRON HORSE (1924), which like 3 BAD MEN is a silent film directed by John Ford and starring George O'Brien.
THE IRON HORSE didn't do much for me, despite my admiration for both Ford and O'Brien, but my reaction to 3 BAD MEN was quite the opposite; it was really lovely, a special film which I'm glad to have finally seen thanks to a push from my list. This is a movie I'll be wanting to watch again in the future.
Olive Borden stars as Lee Carlton, who is heading west in a covered wagon with her father when they are set upon by horse thieves and her father is killed.
It transpires that the sheriff had led on Millie (Priscilla Bonner), younger sister of one of the "bad men," with promises of marriage but then abandoned her. After the sheriff commits further evil acts the "three bad men" determine to take care of him once and for all, while also protecting Lee and Dan in the process.
The performances and staging are beautiful. There are moving moments, such as the scene where Dan learns Lee's father has been killed, which builds to a sweet kiss between the two. There's also some wonderful Fordian humor; a couple of scenes had me chuckling out loud. It's a compelling film from start to finish, building to a beautiful ending.
Tom Santschi, playing the biggest and meanest of the bad men, has soulful eyes and gives a tender performance as a man who turns out to have quite a noble character, as do his comrades.
This is a special film which is well worth seeing. Recommended.
3 BAD MEN was filmed by George Schneiderman. It runs 92 minutes.
3 BAD MEN is available on DVD in the Ford at Fox "Silent Epics" collection or in the giant Ford at Fox Collection. I was fortunate enough to pick up that set on sale at Fox Connect last year.
October 2016 Update: I had the opportunity to revisit this film with live piano accompaniment at the 2016 Lone Pine Film Festival.