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Grey, Z., 1937. Majesty’s Rancho. New York, New York Sunday News.

When “Majesty’s Rancho” was first published, in New York Sunday News, 26th September 1937, Zane Grey was 65 years old. It’s prequel, The Light of Western Stars, was published 24 years earlier. I mention this, because I believe it has an impact on the end result of “Majesty’s Rancho“. Later publishings were in hardcover in 1938 by Harper & Brothers, in 1942 as an Armed Services Edition and in 1949 by Zane Grey Western Books.

I had to pull back several times while reading “Majesty’s Rancho” and writing this review because I kept on being hit by a sense of “Huh?” and “Say what?”. One reason was the way Madge/Majesty was treated in the story. Grey did not like a female protagonist who might be perceived as possibly stronger than the male protagonist (Pauly, T.H., 2014). By the time he had finished with Madeline in The Light of Western Stars, Grey had found his recipe for breaking such women down and he used that recipe for what it was worth in “Majesty’s Rancho“. He was apparently not alone in not wanting that. Reviewers and the blurb all seem to agree that she needed taking down a few notches.

One of the reasons I felt this way, was because all the main protagonists and the antagonist blamed Madge for their own behavior. Madge blamed Madge for how she behaved, Uhl (antagonist) blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her, Rollie blamed Madge for how he treated her, Lance blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her and Gene blamed Madge for how he and Lance treated her. Talk about internalizing and externalizing blame in stereotypically gendered ways. The only people who did not blame Madge for their own behaviors were Ren Starr and Nels. These two men were voices of reason throughout the story.

Nels: “Wal, I have. An’ I’m gamblin’ on her, Gene. Wild as a young filly, shore she was. But good as gold an’ as true as steel. When she was heah last I had some jars, you bet. I had to figger oot thet times had changed since you an’ me ran after girls. We’ve stayed right in one spot, Gene, an’ this old world has moved on.”

“Right. I’ll bet you we have it coming to us. Madge said in her letter she was having a crowd of college friends come to visit her.”

“Fine. She did thet last time an’ I never had such fun.”

Another thing I had a problem with was the way Madge was blamed for the current finances of the farm. However, when she left the farm, for The University of Southern California, as a 16 year-old their family was wealthy. Madge, herself, had a fond worth a million dollars and her mother was even wealthier. In addition, their ranch was doing really well. That perception was maintained by both her mother and her father the entire time she was away, meaning Madge spent money accordingly. Instead of letting her know that the Crash on Wall Street in 1929 had affected their family and that they all needed to use less money, they told her nothing. Gene had no head for money and kept making unwise money choices. He was afraid of letting Madeline (his wife) do their books in case she found out he had taken out a mortgage on the ranch. All the way through the story, Lance keeps up an internal ranting towards her spending yet he also kept his mouth shut because of a promise to Gene. Madge had sensed something was off the last time she was home but did not know what it was. Before coming home, she had decided she would be spending the rest of her time and money on the upkeep of the ranch. She just wanted one last summer with friends.

“I get it,” she said, soberly, dropping those penetrating eyes. “I’ve always understood Majesty’s Rancho was mine. You know, just in a vain and playful way, perhaps. How about that, Dad—seriously?”

“Of course this ranch is yours—or will be someday, which is just the same. And a white elephant—my daughter.”

“Not for little Madge. What do you suppose I went to college for? What did I study economics for?… Dad—Mom, I tell you I’m home for good. I’m crazy about my home. It has been swell to have unlimited money. Let me play around this summer—entertain my friends—then I’ll hop to the job.”

Madge/Majesty Stewart is the daughter of Gene Stewart and Madeline Hammond from The Light of Western Stars. She has grown up on an awesome ranch right across the border from New Mexico (Blake, K., 2014). When we first meet her she is an honor student and secretary to the student body at the University of Southern California. She is popular with her fellow students and is considered kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. Her beauty and spirit attract men to her, some nice and some not so nice (like Honey Bee Uhl). Except for Ren Starr and Nels, all the men we get to know in “Majesty’s Rancho” want to possess Madge.

Lance Sidway is the male protagonist. Much like Madge, he is beautiful, kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. He loves women and they like him. His financial background is completely different to Madge’s, and that background goes some way in explaining how completely incapable he is of understanding Madge. His mom had died early, the Crash and Great Depression came and took their ranch, he had to quit college, his dad died and Lance had to get his sister’s surgery and recovery paid for. So he and Umpqua, his horse, went to Hollywood and Umpqua made a name of itself. Lance got sick of never making a name of himself, always having to be a stunt or boyfriend to  up-and-coming actors, and having to play second fiddle to his horse. So he left Hollywood with Umpqua to find the Wild West he had heard of.

Lance and Umpqua’s ride from Los Angeles, California to Douglas, Arizona.

What he found was that both he and his horse got into better shape and that the West was not so wild after all.

He knew that arid country, having been to Palm Springs and Indio with motion-picture companies. Still, sight of the rolling wasteland with its knolls of mesquite and flats of greasewood, and the irregular barren mountains zigzagging the horizon, afforded him keen pleasure. How different this country from the golden pastures and black hills and swift streams of Oregon! Lance could not have conceived a greater contrast. And by noonday the June heat of the desert was intense. Sweat oozed out of his every pore and Umpqua was wet. But this heat was what both horse and rider needed. They were heavy from underwork and overeating.

Gene Stewart, Madge’s dad, is also mostly a nice guy. He longs for an exciting past he could understand and not the boring demands of being a settled man to an adult (18) daughter. He projects much of his unhappiness on to Madge and there are moments when she wonders if he really loves her. Grey was 65 when the serial was published. He bemoaned the older, slower days when nature remained unspoiled by automobiles and automatic weapons (Cast, C.C., 2008). Gene is written with this type of spirit. Gene’s wife, Madeline is a background figure who comforts Gene and Madge when needed.

When Madge and Lance meet both fall immediately in love. However, from the time they both meet again at the ranch they treat each other atrociously. If this is love, then I’m not missing anything in my life. Why would Grey write them both so jaded? It’s as though he had seen “Gone With the Wind” and wanted to write something like that. Such “romances” have never appealed to me and I wasn not able to finish either the book or watch the film of “Gone With the Wind“.

The main antagonist of “Majesty’s Rancho” is Honey Bee Uhl. Grey often makes his antagonists cartoonish and Uhl is no exception. He did not feel as dangerous as he should have even when the story got to his main scene. I wasn’t able to believe in him, and I think that was part of my problem with this story.

All in all I have to say that “Majesty’s Rancho” is far from one of Grey’s best works. As far as language, it felt authentic. There were racial slurs typical of white farmers of that time. Most of the time I felt as though I was reading the words of a bitter old man, which Grey probably wasn’t. And the romance was soooo not my style. However, if you are into stuff like “Gone With the Wind” then this might be a story for you.


Available free at Roy Glashan’s Library and Internet Archive.

Reviews:

Translations:

  • Croatian: Grey, Z., 1961/1964/1966/1985. Princezin ranč. Opatija: Otokar Keršovani. Omer Lakomica (Translator).
  • Czech: Grey, Z., 1998. Ranč Majesty. Český Těšín: Oddych. Radomír Karas (Illustrator). Karel Chlouba (Translator).
  • German: Grey, Z., 1952. Majesty; München: AWA-Verl. Dr. Hansheinz Werner (Translator).
  • Hungarian: Grey, Z., 1990. Majesti tanyája. Budapest: Sprint. Pap László (Translator). (2011, Budapest: Fapadoskonyv.hu.
  • Italian: Grey, Z., 1961/1969. Il ranch di Majesty. Milano: Sonzogno. Agnese Silvestri Giorgi (Translator).
  • Norwegian: Grey, Z., 1974. Den fortapte ranchen. Oslo: Ingar Weyer Tveitan. Ulf Gleditsch (Translator). (1988, Fredhøi; 1997, Egmont bøker)
  • Spanish: Grey, Z., 1950. El rancho Majestad. Barcelona Bruguera, 1950. Luis Conde Vélez (Translator).

Bibliography

 

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Posted by on 2018-10-28 in Books

 

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The Light of Western Stars (1913)

Munsey’s Magazine, May – December 1913
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1914
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, November 1949 (RGL)
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jul 1951, Sep 1958
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (UK) v1 #6 195? (Galactic Central)

The Light of Western Stars was first published as a serial in Munsey’s magazine in 1913 then published as a novel in 1914. Its backdrop is most likely the beginnings of the Mexican revolution. Set to somewhere around 1912 in the San Bernardino Valley in Arizona and the Peloncillo Mountains in New Mexico the musings about interesting times in the novel do seem to indicate that incursions of guerilla had started. (ZGWS) Because of this forts were built along the border just in case.

Francisco-I-Madero-contra-Porfirio-Diaz-Historia-de-la-Revolucion-MexicanaMadeline (Majesty) Hammond had come to El Cajon in New Mexico to visit her brother, Alfred. She longed to see him again and to get away from the life of a socialite back East. Socialiting had lost its appeal and Madeline now longed for a life with greater meaning than the one she had lived. Once she arrives in El Cajon Madeline discovers that all is not well. For one thing her brother has not received notice of her coming, and for another she meets trouble in the form of Gene Stewart.

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Her brother is not doing as well financially as he had intimated in his letters to his sister. Indeed, his financial situation is rather dire. Madeline steps in and supports him both financially and by trying to become part of the life he leads. She buys land for herself and discovers that the West is both wilder and tamer than she had thought and that people were not always what they first seemed.

“He’s sure going to feel the ground,” said Florence, smiling at Madeline. “Miss Hammond, I suppose that prize horse of yours—White Stockings—would spoil his coat if he were heah to roll in this greasewood and cactus.”

During lunch-time Madeline observed that she was an object of manifestly great interest to the three cowboys. She returned the compliment, and was amused to see that a glance their way caused them painful embarrassment. They were grown men—one of whom had white hair—yet they acted like boys caught in the act of stealing a forbidden look at a pretty girl.

“Cowboys are sure all flirts,” said Florence, as if stating an uninteresting fact. But Madeline detected a merry twinkle in her clear eyes. The cowboys heard, and the effect upon them was magical. They fell to shamed confusion and to hurried useless tasks. Madeline found it difficult to see where they had been bold, though evidently they were stricken with conscious guilt. She recalled appraising looks of critical English eyes, impudent French stares, burning Spanish glances—gantlets which any American girl had to run abroad. Compared with foreign eyes the eyes of these cowboys were those of smiling, eager babies.

“Haw, haw!” roared Stillwell. “Florence, you jest hit the nail on the haid. Cowboys are all plumb flirts. I was wonderin’ why them boys nooned hyar. This ain’t no place to noon. Ain’t no grazin’ or wood wuth burnin’ or nuthin’. Them boys jest held up, throwed the packs, an’ waited fer us. It ain’t so surprisin’ fer Booly an’ Ned—they’re young an’ coltish—but Nels there, why, he’s old enough to be the paw of both you girls. It sure is amazin’ strange.”

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The Light of Western Stars available on Gutenberg

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Review:

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Films/movies

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Translations:

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Border War (1910-19)

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-03 in Books

 

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The Shepherd of Guadaloupe (1930)

The Sheep Herder; By Harold von Schmidt;  In Colliers Magazine, December 29, 1928

“The Sheep Herder”; By Harold von Schmidt;
In Colliers Magazine, December 29, 1928

Collier’s Magazine 27 October 1928 – January 5 1929
Harper & Brothers, New York 1930

For the most part the story is set to Las Vegas, New Mexico during the post-WWI years.

Cliff Forrest had left a wealthy father and mother behind in Las Vegas, New Mexico when he went off to World War I. During the war Cliff was severely wounded and came home to New Mexico in extremely poor health. His discovery of the changed family fortunes were abruptly revealed upon his return to what had been the family estate:

“Dad, it’s Clifton Forrest, who used to live here. I saw him on the Berengaria, but didn’t recognize him then. He was returning from France. He must have been badly wounded in the war. He did not know me. . . . He didn’t know I lived here . . . that this was not his home. . . . When I told him—he fainted.”

Ooops. Perhaps his father and mother should at least have told Clifton where he needed to go when Cliff returned to Las Vegas. When he realises how dire the circumstances are at home Clifton states:

“We’re ruined—penniless—and I’ve come home to die.”

While he was away, Clay Forrest and Jed Lundeen have become enemies. Naturally, Virginia (Jed’s daughter) has to fall for the wounded returning soldier. If Jed Lundeen had his way, Virginia would have nothing to do with Cliff. Jed has promised Virginia to Augustine Malpass. Malpass used to be Jed’s superintendent. When we get to know Augustine he has become Jed’s partner. In fact, Malpass was the one who engineered the deal that made Jed’s fortune and ruined Clay Forrest.

Cliff struggles with his extremely difficult fate. The United States was not prepared to deal with the problem of surviving veterans from the war. History has not taught us that people get wounded during wars and that somehow those who served their leaders must in turn be taken care of. Cliff was one of the victims of this thoughtlessness/callousness. No wonder finding the strength to want to fight his way back to some kind of health seemed impossible.

Junction of the Jemez and Guadaloupe Rivers, 1884;  Photoprint copyrighted by B.L. Cook, E.A. Bass, and E.M. Robinson

Junction of the Jemez and Guadaloupe Rivers, 1884;
Photoprint copyrighted by B.L. Cook, E.A. Bass, and E.M. Robinson

Zane Grey always offers the heroes/heroines of his stories a way to handle the challenges he throws their way. Both Virginia and Cliff discover extremely unpleasant truths about their fathers. Rather than taking the sides of their parents, the two end up working to become stronger (in Cliff’s case) and reveal the truth about old dealings (in Virginia’s case).

Cliff goes off to be a Shepherd, hence the title of the novel. Through the work, his closeness to nature and revelations about the fates of people around him, Cliff begins putting himself together again.

Virginia goes off to Colorado to stay with her friend Ethel and discovers strange things about her father’s silver mine and the role of Malpass in Jed’s dealings.

“Thick as thieves” certainly does not relate to our partners in crime.

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The Shepherd of Guadaloupe on Gutenberg

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Review:

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Translations:

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Properties of Violence: Law and Land Grant Struggle in Northern New Mexico (p. 73-76)

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-06 in Books

 

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Video

Films based on “Fighting Caravans”

1931: Fighting Caravans: Information from IMDB

Directed by Otto Brower and David Burton
Screenplay by Edward E. Paramore, Jr., Keene Thomspson, Agnes Brand Leahy and Arthur Caesar

Cast:

Gary Cooper Gary Cooper …Clint Belmet Lili Damita Lili Damita …Felice Ernest Torrence Ernest Torrence …Bill Jackson Tully Marshall Tully Marshall …Jim Bridger Fred Kohler Fred Kohler …Lee Murdock Eugene Pallette Eugene Pallette …Seth Roy Stewart Roy Stewart …Couch May Boley May Boley …Jane Eve Southern Eve Southern …Faith Frank Campeau Frank Campeau …Jeff Moffitt Charles Winninger Charles Winninger …Marshall Frank Hagney Frank Hagney …Renegade

Oscar Apfel Oscar Apfel …Minor Role Irving Bacon Irving Bacon …Mustachioed Barfly Chief John Big Tree Chief John Big Tree …Indian Chief Chris Willow Bird Chris Willow Bird …Apache Indian Frank Brownlee Frank Brownlee …Minor Role Jack Carlyle …Minor Role; Blue Cloud …Navajo Indian Iron Eyes Cody Iron Eyes Cody …Indian After Firewater Bill Cooley …Minor Role Rae Daggett …Minor Role Jane Darwell Jane Darwell …Pioneer Woman Sidney De Gray Sidney De Gray …Minor Role (uncredited)Clifford Dempsey Clifford Dempsey …Minor Role (uncredited)Walter Downing Walter Downing …Minor Role (uncredited)James Durkin James Durkin …Minor Role Chief White Eagle Chief White Eagle …Indian (uncredited)Peggy Elinor Peggy Elinor …Minor Role (uncredited)Jim Farley Jim Farley …Amos Pauline French Pauline French …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Rosa Gore Rosa Gore …Pioneer Woman High Eagle High Eagle …Mission Indian (uncredited)Helen Hunt Helen Hunt …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Dolores Johnson Dolores Johnson …Minor Role (uncredited)Jane Keckley Jane Keckley …Pioneer Woman (uncredited)Harry Lamont Harry Lamont …Minor Role Harry Lee Harry Lee …Minor Role (uncredited)Donald MacKenzie Donald MacKenzie …Gus James A. Marcus James A. Marcus …The Blacksmith Merrill McCormick Merrill McCormick …Townsman (uncredited)Guy Oliver Guy Oliver …Minor Role Tiny Sandford Tiny Sandford …Man at Wagon Train (uncredited)Syd Saylor Syd Saylor …Charlie Scott Seaton Scott Seaton …Minor Role Harry Semels Harry Semels …Brawler (uncredited)Ernest Shields Ernest Shields …Minor Role (uncredited)Bruce Warren Bruce Warren …Minor Role (uncredited)E. Alyn Warren E. Alyn Warren …Barlow White Cloud White Cloud …Choctaw Indian (uncredited)Chief White Feather Chief White Feather …Iroquois Indian (uncredited)

Music by Max Bergunkerm, Emil Bierman, A. Cousminer, Karl Hajos, Herman Hand, Emil Hilb, Sigmund Krumgold, John Leipold and Oscar Potoker
Cinematography by Lee Garmes and Henry W. Gerrard
Film Editing by William Shea
Art Direction by Robert Odell
Sound by Earl S. Hayman
Stunts by Spike Spackman
Camera and Electrical equipment by Francis Burgess, Warner Cruze, Russell Harlan, Art Lane, Warren Lynch, Fred Mayer, Guy Roe, Frank Titus and Cliff Shirpser
Presenter: Adolph Zukor

Reviews:

 
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Posted by on 2014-05-31 in Movies

 

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