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Wildfire – 1923 film adaptation

1922: When Romance Rides. Information found on IMdB

“When Zane Grey‘s novel, Wildfire, was filmed here, it somehow turned into a hoary Drury Lane-style melodrama, set in the West instead of England. While chasing an unruly colt through the hills, Lin Slone (Carl Gantvoort) is knocked unconscious. Lucy Bostil (Claire Adams) finds him — a stroke of luck, since her father (Charles Arling), who owns a stable, has a formidable rival in the villainous Bill Cordts (Harry L. Van Meter). Cordts will do anything to make sure his horse beats out Bostil’s in the next race, including drugging the steed. Slone has trained his colt, named Wildfire, to carry a rider, and he gives him to Lucy, providing she ride it in the race. She does, and Wildfire wins. But the story’s not over yet — in one last bit of villainy, Cordts and his half-wit accomplice, Joel Creech (a not-very half-witted Jean Hersholt), kidnap Lucy. Sloan, of course, heads into the mountains and rescues her for the requisite ending clinch. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Produced by Benjamin B. Hampton Productions Co.

Directed by Jean Hersholt, Eliot Howe and Charles O. Rush

Adapted by Benjamin B. Hampton based on WildfireMy review of the novel)

Cast:

Claire Adams Claire Adams …Lucy Bostil

Carl Gantvoort Carl Gantvoort …Lin Slone

Jean Hersholt Jean Hersholt …Joel Creech

Harry von Meter Harry von Meter …Bill Cordts

Charles Arling Charles Arling …Bostil

Mary Jane Irving …’Bostie’ Bostil

Tod Sloan …Holley

Audrey Chapman …Lucy’s Chum

Frank Hayes Frank Hayes …Dr. Binks

Helen Howard …Lucy’s Chum

Stanley J. Bingham …Dick Sears

Walter Perkins …Thomas Brackton

Babe London Babe London …Sally Brackton

John Beck …Van

Cinematography by William M. Edmond and Gus Peterson


Also released in Portugese as Romance da Planície

Reviews:

 

 
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Posted by on 2015-09-15 in Movies

 

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Thunder Mountain (1932)

 Index map of southern and central Idaho mining regions; Credit: Idaho State Historical Society


Index map of southern and central Idaho mining regions;
Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

 

1932: October 22 – December 24: Collier’s Serial. Ten episodes.
1935: New York: Harper and BrothersThunder Mountain - Colliers magazine - 1st installment

I have an admission to make. A great many years ago I lived in Utah for five years with my family and attended High School there and went to Mormon religious classes, called Seminary. In both I learned the history of Mormons and the history of the West. But the only thing I retained about Idaho was potatoes. Idaho was/is known for its potatoes. Until I did the research for my review I knew absolutely nothing about Idaho and its gold rushes. Now I do.

Zane Grey wrote the novel Thunder Mountain while living on Williams Lake. Thunder Mountain derives its name from local Indians that named it after hearing thunder reverberate through the narrow valley forming Williams Lake.

Like many of Zane Grey’s historical romances, Thunder Mountain was based on real life happenings. There were indeed three brothers who came to Thunder Mountain. Their names were Lew, Ben and Dan Caswell. The brothers started their adventure at Thunder Mountain around 1894 and it was the brothers who gave Thunder Mountain its name.

Apparently, Zane Grey made the decision to write about the gold strike at Thunder Mountain in 1931.

Where did Elmer Keith spend most of his hunting and outfitting days? He was a guide for many years in the state in which he lived. In 1931, Keith guided the author Zane Grey and friends in the Middle Fork country. It was from this trip that Grey wrote the novel “Thunder Mountain”.

Real-life Emerson brothers;  Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

Real-life Emerson brothers;
Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

There were several gold rushes in the US and they were all mad affairs. Once the magic word “gold” was heard, people left their families and homes to seek after what they thought would be easy money. In the case of the Thunder Mountain rush, the magic words came from the Caswell brothers. We, however, are concerned with the fictional story.

One night when the afterglow of sunset loomed dull red upon the pool and the silence of the wilderness lay like a mantle upon the valley, the old beaver noticed a strange quivering ripple passing across the placid surface of her pool. There was no current coming from the brook, there was no breath of wind to disturb the dead calm. She noticed the tremors pass across the pool, she sniffed the pine-scented air, she listened with all the sensitiveness of a creature of the wild.

From high up on the looming mountain slope, from the somber purple shadow, came down a low rumble, a thunder that seemed to growl from the bowels of the great mountain.

Thunder Mountain comes to life and hundreds of years before the Emerson brothers enter life, gold begins to make its appearance near the surface of Thunder Mountain.

For long there was nothing. The valley seemed dead. The mountains slept. The stars watched. Wild life lay in its coverts. Then there came a ticking of tiny pebbles down the slope, a faint silken rustle of sliding dust, a strange breath of something indefinable, silence, and then again far off, a faint crack of rolling rocks, a moan, as a subterranean monster trying to breathe in the bowels of the earth, and at last, deep and far away, a rumble as of distant thunder.

Once again Thunder Mountain wakes. This time, those who hear are the Sheepeater Indians fleeing from soldiers taking over their lands. They decide to listen to its voice and move on.

Thunder Mountain - This is the valley all rightEnter the Emerson brothers (Sam, Jake and Lee/Kalispel/Kal). The Emerson brothers are the ones who begin the race for gold, but they are not the ones who end it. Indeed, once Kal comes back from getting supplies (Jake has gone off to stake a claim) he discovers the valley full of prospectors and empty of Sam. The main man in the valley, Rand Leavitt, claims that he had found the valley abandoned, but Lee suspects Rand of being his brother’s killer:

“Leavitt, I’ll let you off because men like you hang themselves,” declared Kalispel, bitterly. “But I’m accusin’ you before this crowd. You’re crooked, you made away with my brother an’ jumped his claim. I call on all here to witness my stand against you an’ my oath that I’ll live to prove it.”

Rand and Kal are our main male characters with Cliff Borden and Jake as their respective seconds. There are two female lead characters. One is Sydney Blair, the Easterner come west with her father. Sidney falls under the spell of Rand Leavitt while her father struggles with drinking and gambling. Nugget (Ruth) is a dance-hall girl. The job of a dance-hall girl was to get the customers to buy drinks and to dance with the men who came into the hall. They were generally considered bad girls but not “the worst sort” (Painted Ladies).

Knowing exactly who is good or bad in many of Zane Grey’s historical romances can be a difficult thing. Perhaps being able to tell good from bad has something to do with the lengths to which his characters are willing to go to satisfy their wishes. Rand Leavitt and his compatriots are certainly willing to do a great many nefarious deeds to maintain control of the wealth discovered in the valley (Thunder City). Kal and his brother have more scruples.

Sidney and her father seem to be kind of pitiful characters. Falling for Rand (or at least seeming to fall for Rand) has made Sidney blind and deaf to the evidence mounting against her love. That’s nothing new. I see that all the time in real life. Cognitive dissonance is painful and exhausting. I’ve been through it myself and taking off the blinders hurts. Sidney is in for a whole lot of pain.

Roosevelt Idaho - Monumental Creek - Thunder Mountain

Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

Nugget/Ruth is tougher sort. She has had to support herself to survive. Being a dance-hall girl would have exposed her to a plethora of personalities, traits and temperaments. Such a job would have shown her the worst and the best of men. Maintaining her belief in people and life must have been difficult. I imagine all dance-hall girls struggled with that. It is not a life I would choose for a daughter or son of mine, but it is a whole lot safer than needing to prostitute yourself. Like today, prostitutes had it rough.

Kal. Hmmm. I can understand him. Accepting responsibility for my actions was something I struggled with for a long time. Or perhaps it was more a case of accepting responsibility for the consequences of my actions. Kal has a tendency to make excuses for what has happened in his life. There are probably always mitigating circumstances in lives. But what happens, happens no matter what the circumstances were. At least that is what I have found and that is an acknowledgement we see Kal grow into as the story progresses.

Happy endings? Perhaps, but not really. As in real life, dreams are broken and so are lives. Some of the characters find peace in their hearts in spite of what they have been through to get there. I guess that could be called a happy ending.

And Thunder Mountain? Well Thunder Mountain continues to stand today and still sheds its skin from time to time, as I imagine it will continue to do for a long time to come.

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Thunder Mountain available at Ron Glashan’s library

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Reviews:

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Translations:

  • 1935-1939: Das Goldgräbertal (German)
  • 1935: Il monte del tuono
  • 1939: Ukkosvuori (Finnish)
  • 1963: Gullgraverbyen (Norwegian)
  • 1936: Hromová hora (Czech)

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-09-04 in Books

 

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The Young Forester (1910)

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;   Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;  Credit:

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;
Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;
Credit:

Harper & Brothers, NY 1910

Zane Grey wrote the Ken Ward Books for Boys as adventure stories for a younger audience. In each of them Kenneth Ward sets off into the unknown and through him Zane Grey gets to present both places and issues that were important to him in a manner that appealed to a younger audience.

In The Young Forester Zane Grey discusses what it meant to be a U.S. Forest Service Ranger through his character Ken Ward. Ward has a dream and that dream is to become a Forest Ranger. He just needs to convince his father to let him go to Arizona so he can check the ranger life out in the company of his friend, Dick Leslie. Dick Leslie has already proven himself as a Forest Service Ranger by having the necessary qualities and having passed the required test.

Ken’s father feels Ken has romanticized the life of a ranger too much, but after Ken has taken him through his own woods he realizes that his son has studied the subject and tried to prepare for what lies ahead. So Ken gets his go ahead on the condition that Ken comes back and continues his studies in the autumn.

On his way West, Ken meets a man called Bluell who lives in Holston (Ken’s embarkation station). Ken manages to settle for the night in a hotel and right away sees that people are a lot tougher than he is. Someone as fresh from the East as Ken is in for a lot of trickery but not all are out to get him.

His very first advice is to keep his mouth shut about going into the Ranger business. Secondly, he shouldn’t talk so much about being from the East. And finally he gets advice on how to handle his riding and pack horse. In all these things Bluell seems to steer him true.

mill-at-tiger-creek

The Tiger Creek Mill; Credit: Sierra Nevada Logging Museum

Certain things come to light that Ken finds odd. Coming across the trail that he had lost the day before Ken sees the same Mexican man who had been following him around the evening before. Then Ken arrives at a mining operation in the hills that is run by Bluell. This operation is cutting an awful lot of trees and Ken wonders at how legal this operation is. Dick Leslie seems to have changed quite a bit. All of these things together and Ken is getting a bit worried.

According to one old (real life) ranger:

The only serious opposition I recall was from contractors undertaking to supply timber needed by the larger mining companies for fuel and mine timbers. They had been accustomed to cut large quantities where they pleased, without payment. When the forest reserves were created, the contractors didn’t even attempt to get permits or purchase the timber from the Government, but would help themselves. That kept my father and the rest of us busy. (Richard H. Hanna)

It just so happens that Bluell represents one such contractor and that they aren’t all that concerned about permits or payments. Illegal logging isn’t something people only did back in the old days when they supposedly did not know better. We are really good at it today as well.

Ward overhears Bluell revealing his thoughts about Ken. It isn’t pretty.

Fire fighters going to the front;   Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);  Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

Fire fighters going to the front;
Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);
Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

“His name’s Ward. Tall, well-set lad. I put Greaser after him the other night, hopin’ to scare him back East. But nix!”

“Well, he’s here now—to study forestry! Ha! ha!” said the other.

“You’re sure the boy you mean is the one I mean?”

“Greaser told me so. And this boy is Leslie’s friend.”

“That’s the worst of it,” replied Buell, impatiently. “I’ve got Leslie fixed as far as this lumber deal is concerned, but he won’t stand for any more. He was harder to fix than the other rangers, an’ I’m afraid of him.” he’s grouchy now.

“You shouldn’t have let the boy get here.”

“Stockton, I tried to prevent it. I put Greaser with Bud an’ Bill on his trail. They didn’t find him, an’ now here he turns up.”

“Maybe he can be fixed.”

“Not if I know my business, he can’t; take that from me. This kid is straight. He’ll queer my deal in a minute if he gets wise. Mind you, I’m gettin’ leary of Washington. We’ve seen about the last of these lumber deals. If I can pull this one off I’ll quit; all I want is a little more time. Then I’ll fire the slash, an’ that’ll cover tracks.”

“Buell, I wouldn’t want to be near Penetier when you light that fire. This forest will burn like tinder.”

“It’s a whole lot I care then. Let her burn. Let the Government put out the fire. Now, what’s to be done about this boy?”

Understandably, Ken worries where this is going to end. And so he should.

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The Young Forester (Ken Ward book for boys) available on Gutenberg

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Reviews:

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Translations:

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-07 in Books

 

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The Young Lion Hunter (Ken Ward II) (1911)

Pumawithdogs-copy

Mountain lion being hunted by hounds (hunting dogs)Credit: Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection

Harper & Brothers, New York, 1911

The Young Lion Hunter is set to the summer after The Young Forester. Ken Ward has spent a year in college and wishes to work another summer as a Forest Service Ranger. Supervisor Birch allows it and Kenneth off for Utah.

At Holston he is met by his old friends, Dick Leslie and Jim Williams. At first they do not recognize him. Ken has changed quite a bit during his year at college.

To me Ken Ward had changed, and I studied him with curious interest. The added year sat well upon him, for there was now no suggestion of callowness. The old frank, boyish look was the same, yet somewhat different. Ken had worked, studied, suffered. But as to his build, it was easy to see the change. That promise of magnificent strength and agility, which I had seen in him since he was a mere boy, had reached its fulfilment. Lithe and straight as an Indian, almost tall, wide across the shoulders, small-waisted and small-hipped, and with muscles rippling at his every move, he certainly was the most splendid specimen of young manhood I had ever seen.

As a surprise, Ken has brought his younger brother Hal along. Their father had indicated his strong wish for this to happen. Freckles and red hair were Hal’s distinguishing marks along with an attitude that needed trimming. The 14-year old and his brother fit the mold that Zane Grey cast his sibling characters in. Hal is the intense, live in the moment type. Ken is more of the thoughtful and forward-thinking personality.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;  Credit: Visit Southern Utah

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;
Credit: Visit Southern Utah

Dick Leslie explains that Ken will be his helper. Hiram Bent, game-warden, wishes for the rangers to hunt cougars. They are “thick as hops” and Bent wishes them gone. The area they will be hunting in is the north rim of the Cañon–Grand Cañon in Coconina.

Hal proves that he will not be bullied about his looks or about his riding-abilities. Choosing the finest looking mustang also brings him to the ground a few times before he learns that these mustangs “need” spurring to be ridden. Sounds pretty awful to me and maybe it is. That was the way it was done back then and Hal eventually learned how to handle his choosy pinto.

Pinto Mustangs Credit: Hest.no

Pinto Mustangs
Credit: Hest.no

Let’s face it. People are racists / ethnicists / culturalists /classists / genderists etc. We all are to one degree or another depending on the kind of propaganda we grew up with. Although Zane Grey could be considered one of the authors with a pro-Native American view, he was still a product of the propaganda he had grown up with. So you will to see some stereotyping here with regard to the Navajo guide the foursome have hired for their wildlife management job.

Hal is exposed to the camp-life of the rangers, the wildness of the Grand Canyons and a type of people he was not used to back East. Like Ken did the previous year, Hal loses many of his blinders during the trip and the four end up very definitely having an adventure.

“Hounds runnin’ wild,” yelled Hiram.

The onslaught of the hunter and his charger stirred a fear in me that checked admiration. I saw the green of a low cedar-tree shake and split to let in the huge, gaunt horse with rider doubled over the saddle. Then came the crash of breaking brush and pounding of hoofs from the direction the hounds had taken. We strung out in the lane Hiram left and hung low over the pommels; and though we had his trail and followed it at only half his speed, yet the tearing and whipping we got from the cedar spikes were hard enough indeed.

A hundred rods within the forest we unexpectedly came upon Hiram, dismounted, searching the ground. Mux and Curley were with him, apparently at fault. Suddenly Mux left the little glade and, with a sullen, quick bark, disappeared under the trees. Curley sat on his haunches and yelped.

“Shore somethin’s wrong,” said Jim, tumbling out of his saddle. “Hiram, I see a lion track.”

“Here, fellows, I see one, and it’s not where you’re looking,” I added.

“Now what do you think I’m lookin’ fer if it ain’t tracks?” queried Hiram. “Hyar’s one cougar track, an’ thar’s another. Jump off, youngsters, an’ git a good look at ’em. Hyar’s the trail we were on, an’ thar’s the other, crossin’ at right angles. Both are fresh, one ain’t many minnits old. Prince an’ Queen hey split one way, an’ Mux another. Curley, wise old hound, hung fire an’ waited fer me. Whar on earth is Ringer? It ain’t like him to be lost when thar’s doin’s like this.”

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The Young Lion Hunter on Gutenberg

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Reviews: Charles Wheeler

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Translations:

  • 1952: Ken der Pumajaeger (German)

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-06 in Books

 

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Wildfire (1916)

Wild Hoofbeats

Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses
by Carol J. Walker
Credit: Carol J. Walker

Serialized in The Country Gentleman, April 8, 1916 ff.
First book edition published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1916
Featured in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, May 1949

My favorite animal on the earth is not humans but horses. Especially the wild ones. I wouldn’t like a stallion attacking me, but its beauty and grace of movement is undeniable. In this Zane Grey novel we get to meet the Mustang Wildfire.

Wildfire - The Country GentlemanLin Slone, one of our main characters, is a horse wrangler. In the 1870’s a horse wrangler was the person that managed the spare horses on cattle drives. The wrangler kept the horses happy and was also the one who knew how to train a newly caught horse (unless he was fresh to the game). Lin Slone is an experienced wrangler who prefers the company of horses and the solitude of nature to the company of people. He is, of course, going to be the man who ends up capturing Wildfire but that capture costs both man and horse a great deal.

Slone was packed and saddled and on his way before the sun reddened the canyon wall. He walked the horses. From time to time he saw signs of Wildfire’s consistent progress. The canyon narrowed and the walls grew lower and the grass increased. There was a decided ascent all the time. Slone could find no evidence that the canyon had ever been traveled by hunters or Indians. The day was pleasant and warm and still. Every once in a while a little breath of wind would bring a fragrance of cedar and pinyon, and a sweet hint of pine and sage. At every turn he looked ahead, expecting to see the green of pine and the gray of sage. Toward the middle of the afternoon, coming to a place where Wildfire had taken to a trot, he put Nagger to that gait, and by sundown had worked up to where the canyon was only a shallow ravine. And finally it turned once more, to lose itself in a level where straggling pines stood high above the cedars, and great, dark-green silver spruces stood above the pines. And here were patches of sage, fresh and pungent, and long reaches of bleached grass. It was the edge of a forest. Wildfire’s trail went on. Slone came at length to a group of pines, and here he found the remains of a camp-fire, and some flint arrow-heads. Indians had been in there, probably having come from the opposite direction to Slone’s. This encouraged him, for where Indians could hunt so could he. Soon he was entering a forest where cedars and pinyons and pines began to grow thickly. Presently he came upon a faintly defined trail, just a dim, dark line even to an experienced eye. But it was a trail, and Wildfire had taken it.

Slone halted for the night. The air was cold. And the dampness of it gave him an idea there were snow-banks somewhere not far distant. The dew was already heavy on the grass. He hobbled the horses and put a bell on Nagger. A bell might frighten lions that had never heard one. Then he built a fire and cooked his meal.

It had been long since he had camped high up among the pines. The sough of the wind pleased him, like music. There had begun to be prospects of pleasant experience along with the toil of chasing Wildfire. He was entering new and strange and beautiful country. How far might the chase take him? He did not care. He was not sleepy, but even if he had been it developed that he must wait till the coyotes ceased their barking round his camp-fire. They came so close that he saw their gray shadows in the gloom. But presently they wearied of yelping at him and went away. After that the silence, broken only by the wind as it roared and lulled, seemed beautiful to Slone. He lost completely that sense of vague regret which had remained with him, and he forgot the Stewarts. And suddenly he felt absolutely free, alone, with nothing behind to remember, with wild, thrilling, nameless life before him. Just then the long mourn of a timber wolf wailed in with the wind. Seldom had he heard the cry of one of those night wanderers. There was nothing like it—no sound like it to fix in the lone camper’s heart the great solitude and the wild.

Wildfire - Zane Greys Western MagazineLucy Bostil is our female main character. She has just turned 18 (Zane Grey generally liked them young, both in real life and in his novels) and is excited about finally being considered an adult. Her father is horse crazy.

Bostil owns quite a few horses but is always on the look-out for that “one, perfect” wild stallion. I guess you could say that he is one of the bad guys because he is willing to go to any lengths to get one. All of Grey’s story try to impart the “Code of the West” on to his reader. One of those codes is “If it’s not your, don’t take it”. Losing his best friend is worth it just so he might retain the status of having the best mustangs.

In my mind I see Bostil as any other addict. He is so caught in the grip of his addiction that he will sacrifice family, friends and reputation to get the drug of his choice. Addiction is very much a mental disease and one from which recovery is extremely difficult.

Once he has taken care of the competition, Bostil is the one in the county with the finest horse, Sage King. Now others covet what he has. Cordt, the horse thief, wants Bostil’s stallion and he will also do anything to achieve his goal.

Because I happen to be on the side of horses rather than that of people, I am going to say that all the men of this story were greedy bastards who took what they wanted no matter the price the object of their desires had to pay.

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Wildfire on Free Read Australia

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

  • Finnish: Tuliharja; Engström, Don; Helsinki: Taikajousi, 1980.
  • German: Wildfeuer; Werner, Hansheinz; München, AWA Verlag, 1953
  • Hungarian: Futótűz; Lendvai, István; Budapest: Nyiry Z., 1995.
  • Italiano: Wildfire; Pitta, Alfredo; I Nuovi Sonzogno, 1966 (Copertina: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Hestekongens datter; Gundersen, Rolf / Oslo: Fredhøi, 1917. (Gratis tilgang Nasjonalbibilioteket for norske IP-adresser)
  • Polish: Płomień; Sujkowska, Janina; Warzawa: M. Arcta, 1936
  • Portugese: Fogo selvagem; Passos, Maria Margarida & Sousa, Homem de; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguese de Revistas, 1957.
  • Serbo-Croatian: Grey, Zen; Divlji plamen; Škunca, Stanko; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961
  • Slovenian: Wildfire; Klinar, Stanko; Ljubljana, Državna založba Slovenije, 1962.
  • Spanish: Huracán; Fernández, José; Barcelona, Juventud, 1933

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-29 in Books

 

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