Monday, January 09, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Men of America (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

William Boyd, who would later be known as Hopalong Cassidy, stars in the pre-Code MEN OF AMERICA (1932), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

I became interested in this film after visiting the film's Iverson Ranch locations in November. A significant percentage of this short little 58-minute movie was shot at Iverson, and I think I saw every location in the movie while I was there!

MEN OF AMERICA was a David O. Selznick production for RKO. It's a sort of Depression era Western, with some of the characters riding horses and some traveling in cars.

The story is set in a small rural community where folks are struggling to get by. Boyd plays Jim Palmer, a farmer who's sweet on Anne (Dorothy Wilson) and plans to marry her once he's got a stable income.

A band of gangsters who broke out of jail and have been robbing banks are hiding out in the hills near town, and the men begin stealing food from various homes. When Tony (Henry Armetta), a father of five, is killed, the townspeople mistakenly think Jim did it, but Jim discovers the real culprits.

And just as he's figured out who's responsible, the crooks kidnap Anne...

The film is nothing special, but it's an interesting and fast-paced little story which presents a nice portrait of a community -- and I was fascinated seeing all the locations! A huge car managed to drive down a path in front of the rock formation seen in my photo to the right. In the background of my photo you can see a home, which wasn't there in 1932. Much of Iverson Ranch is now covered with homes, but there are still some undeveloped areas where movies such as this one were filmed.

Dorothy Wilson is lovely and is one of the nicest things about the movie. She was later Harold Lloyd's leading lady in THE MILKY WAY (1936). Wilson married writer-director Lewis R. Foster in 1936 and retired soon after; Foster won the Oscar for the story for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1936). Foster was also Oscar nominated for cowriting the screenplay for one of my favorite romantic comedies, THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943). The Fosters had two sons. Dorothy Wilson Foster was widowed in 1974 and lived herself until 1998.

Charles "Chic" Sale, who plays Anne's grandfather, was actually only in his late 40s! He has a convincing makeup job. He would pass on in 1936, only 51 years old.

MEN OF AMERICA was directed by Ralph Ince, who plays the leader of the gang, and the movie's star, the uncredited William Boyd. It was filmed in black and white by J. Roy Hunt.

MEN OF AMERICA is part of a two-film set, on a single disc with Richard Dix in ROAR OF THE DRAGON (1933), which I'll be reviewing at a future date. (Update: Here is my review of ROAR OF THE DRAGON.) The print looked fine, especially given the movie's age. There are no extras on the DVD.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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