Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Branded (1931)

BRANDED (1931) is a relatively minor Buck Jones Western, though even lesser Jones Westerns have their compensations.

In this one Buck plays the unfortunately named Cuthbert Chauncey Dale, who understandably prefers to go by Tom!

Tom and his pal Swede (John Oscar) are erroneously arrested for the robbery of a stagecoach. They escape and head for the ranch Tom has inherited, but it's out of the frying pan and into the fire, as at one point Tom is accused of rustling.

Ironically, Tom is befriended by the actual stage robber (Wallace MacDonald), who aids Tom and Swede when the going gets tough.

Although I didn't find this one of Jones's more interesting films, there are still some special aspects, including a beautifully staged death scene near the end of the movie.

There are also some fantastic shots of Vasquez Rocks and the Iverson Ranch.

I didn't find leading lady Ethel Kenyon very likeable, but she had an interesting offscreen life. Her first two husbands were Charles Butterworth and director A. Edward Sutherland, before she found longtime happiness in a marriage which lasted over a half century.

There's an interview with Kenyon at the Western Clippings site in which she remembers a few things about the film, including that Jones "seemed very nice."

BRANDED was directed by D. Ross Lederman. It was filmed by Elmer Dyer and Benjamin Kline.

BRANDED is available on DVD from Sony Choice. It's a good print, albeit with the usual "Gail Pictures" title card found on so many Columbia films of the era. You can learn more about that at IMDb.

I rented the movie from ClassicFlix, where there are big changes ahead; the rental section of the site, now called ClassicFlix Underground, is going to be restricted to current and past members, but the company is launching a new Blu-ray line.


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