Friday, October 16, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Riders of the Purple Sage (1941) at the Lone Pine Film Festival

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (1941) was one of a pair of Zane Grey Westerns I saw at last weekend's Lone Pine Film Festival, following RKO's CODE OF THE WEST (1947).

Four different versions of Grey's novel RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE were shown at the festival: a 1925 version with Tom Mix, the 1931 version with George O'Brien, the 1941 George Montgomery edition, and a 1996 TV production with Ed Harris.

I would have liked to see all four versions, especially O'Brien's, but schedule conflicts meant that I was only able to see the Montgomery version. It's a 20th Century-Fox release which I found quite enjoyable.

Montgomery plays the black-clad cowboy Jim Lassiter, who helps pretty rancher Jane Withersteen (Mary Howard). Jane is raising orphaned little Fay (Patsy Patterson) while trying to hang on to her ranch.

Jim must combat a crooked judge (Robert Barrat); meanwhile, a young lady (Lynne Roberts) turns out to have a surprising connection to Jim. There's nothing particularly special about the movie, although a climb up rocks to a hideout is memorable, but I found it quite entertaining. The young George Montgomery's real-life background as a horseman makes him a fine Western hero. The pretty Roberts was last seen by me singing in the Cisco Kid film ROMANCE OF THE RIO GRANDE (1941).

My only complaint is that the movie is really short, running 54 minutes, and I think another five or ten minutes would have better developed the characters, particularly Jim and Jane's relationship.

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE was directed by James Tinling and filmed by Lucien Andriot. The supporting cast includes Richard Lane, James Gillette, and Kane Richmond.

A final Lone Pine note: There are currently some George Montgomery items on display in the Museum of Western Film History, including a vest and boots:

Lone Pine news still to come: reviews of THE ROUND-UP (1920) and APPALOOSA (2008), and a look at locations from GUNGA DIN (1939), THE HIRED GUN (1957), and KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES (1953).


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