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The Trail Driver: Zane Grey (1931)

Sometimes I press publish without meaning to. That happened this time. This is a more coherent review than the horror that was sent out the first time.

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Zane Grey’s stories were mainly written to entertain. Entertainment was achieved through action- and romance-driven stories. For a story written in the early 1900’s, there was quite a bit of cussing and violence. Readers should be aware of changes in word-usage. “Ejaculation” in The Trail Driver is used about conversations: ““World comin’ to an end!” ejaculated Texas Joe.” Commonly used words back then are considered racist today. Views expressed in The Trail Driver romanticize cowboys and discriminate against women, Native-Americans and African-Americans. In most ways The Trail Driver is representative of the propaganda of its day (Wisniewski/Nakamura).

American tribes

Portion of US map compiled by Aaron Carapella detailing Americans in the US before Europeans invaded

By the time of the cattle-drives, most of the Plains Indian tribes had been decimated in the genocide of Native American (Jawort). The Comanche were too busy trying surviving the American Army to fight cattle drives for anything but survival (Miheshua, p. 14).

The Trail Driver enters the US at a turning-point of the cattle-drives (1871). It was first published as a serial in McCall’s Magazine, Oct. 1931—Feb. 1932 and later published as hard-cover by Harper & Bros in 1936. Friesen points out that Zane Grey got the crossing of the Chisholm Trail at Doan’s Store wrong. Other than that, Grey seems to have his facts straight. (VC Friesen, ch. 27).

Adam Brite is a Euro-American, middle-aged, single and childless man. He has just made a profit off a run on the Chisholm-trail and seeks to further that profit by a second run. This time he is overly optimistic in buying 4500 head of long-horns (ornery buggers) plus about 200 mustangs for his remuda.

“A 12-man crew could manage a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 head. The trail boss was the ultimate authority on the trail, like the captain of a ship, and was paid $100 to $125 a month. Of the rest of the crew, the cook was the most important, earning about $60 per month.” (Texas Almanac)

Adam’s role in the story is that of father-figure. He joins in the work and tries to not play favorites. In many ways Brite’s role is to point out to the reader what might be going on inside people’s heads: “that the Uvalde cowboy had been shot through the heart by something vastly different from a bullet.” Sometimes he pranks Joe or Reddie if the mood hits him. I guess Adam is a greedy, kind-hearted racist man who was somewhat aware of his own racism.

The foreman Adam got himself has an excellent reputation. Like any good owner, he lets Texas Joe Shipman handle the crew as Joe sees fit. Joe is “tall amber-eyed, tawny-haired young giant might well play havoc with the heart of any fancy-free girl“. Fortunately, he is much more than that. He has to keep the feisty crew in check. Like he says: “I reckon I gotta make myself disliked,” The person he struggles most with (in true Zane Grey romance style) is Reddie Blayne. Joe organizes defense and offense against cattle-rustlers (Russ Hite and gang) and deals with Commanches. His worst problems are the combination of weather and long-horn cattle. .

Joe brings his friend Less Holden along “No better ever forked a hawse. But Less is the wildest hombre.” We don’t see much of Less during the story. His character is one on the outskirts of the crew and its adventure. Less calls himself a “walking calendar” due to his ability to figure out what day it is. The explanation is quite mundane, but I do not want to be a spoil-sport.

Library of Congress

Photo by William Henry Jackson, 1843-1942

Alabama Moze is the cook. “It took no second glance for the boss to be assured that this cook was a treasure“. He brought his own stocked chuck-wagon. In addition to being the place where food is made, the cowhands sleep under it if it rains. Alabama’s job is tough. In addition to getting up hours before the drivers and wranglers, Alabama has to haul wood whenever it was available or use dried cow/buffalo-turds for his fire. At times the chuck-wagon has to be hauled across rivers that sometimes went wild. Alabama is African-American. Grey shows us how African-Americans were usually (Massey, SA) treated on cattle-runs, “... On the trail it was not usual for any rider to share the tasks of a negro. Manifestly Pan Handle Smith was a law unto himself…”. Being the cook, Alabama was probably treated better than regular African-American cow-hands. He is the only one of the crew whose fate we do not learn.

Pan Handle Smith is a gun-fighter and “might have rode up this Trail with Jesse Chisholm an been doin’ it ever since.” Giff MacShane told me that Pan is Pecos Smith in West of the Pecos. When Adam hires him, Smith is looking to get out of San Antonio. Gun-fighters weren’t bad guys/gals per se. “Pan Handle Smith had been outlawed, but he had really been more sinned against than sinning.” During the story, Smith calms tempers in both cattle and feisty teen-agers and supports Shipman as foreman.

The Uvalde quintet are “de finest an’ fightenest boys I ever seen,“. Their leader is Deuce Ackerman who “appeared to be the most forceful personality“, a quality needed to handle his friends. We see more of him than the other four. San Sabe comes a close second. San Sabe “had Indian or Mexican blood, and his lean shape wore the stamp of vaquero.” He has a lovely voice and it works wonders “That was the magic by which the trail drivers soothed the restless long-horns.” Rolly Little is “small and round. He had yellow hair, a freckled face, and flashing brown eyes, as sharp as daggers.” Ben Chandler is a “typical Texas youth, long, rangy, loose-jointed, of sandy complexion and hair, and eyes of clear, light blue“. His drinking problem gets him into serious trouble with Deuce, Joe and Adam. Roy Hallett is the last of the five. He is “a quiet, somber, negative youth“.

In addition, Adam is joined by Hal Bender, “the tenderfoot from Pennsylvania, appeared to be a hulking youth, good natured and friendly, though rather shy“, and Whittaker (no first name) was “a red-faced, sleepy-eyed, young rider of twenty-two, notable for his superb physique“. Finally, at Pecan Swale, their first stop, their last addition in the form of Reddie Bayne arrives: “Before the rider stopped Brite answered to a presagement not at all rare in him—that there were meetings and meetings along the trail. This one was an event.” Brite is correct in his presentiment. No Reddie, no The Trail Driver.

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Shortly after the arrival of Reddie, Grey reveals that Bayne is a girl. While not common, women on the trail were a known phenomenon. They chose this tough life for many reasons. “An’ I got the idee pretendin’ to be a boy would make it easier. Thet helped a lot. But I’d always get found oot.” Turns out the last boss who found her out wants her back. Wallen, a rancher from Braseda, is a nasty guy. He rides into the camp at Pecan Swale demanding Reddie: “… I want this rider, Reddie Bayne. He come to me in a deal I made with Jones at Braseda.” At this point the crew learns that Reddie is a girl. Adam has known it for some time.

Wallen is joined by Ross Hite. Ross is a cattle- and mustang-rustler. “Humph! Mebbe Hite is at the haid of this new game,” declared the boss, seriously. “Cattle-drivers sometimes lose half their stock from stampeders. I’ve heahed of one whole herd bein’ stole.” To add to the tension of the story, Grey throws in Comanche raiders.

The Indian mustangs were haltered to the saplings at the edge of the glade. What a ragged, wild-eyed bunch! They had nothing but halters. These they strained against at every rifle-shot. And more than a few of them faced the covert where the drivers lay in ambush. They had caught a scent of the whites. Heads were pointed, ears high, nostrils quivering.

Even the weather conspires to make life miserable for the drivers. In real life, the weather and ornery nature of the long-horns were enough of a challenge on most drives.

The night fell dark, with rumble of thunder and sheet lightning in the distance. The tired cattle bedded down early and held well all night. Morning came lowering and threatening, with a chill wind that swept over the herd from the north. Soon the light failed until day was almost as dark as night. A terrific hailstorm burst upon the luckless herd and drivers. The hailstones grew larger as the storm swept on, until the pellets of gray ice were as large as walnuts. The drivers from suffering a severe pounding passed to extreme risk of their lives. They had been forced to protect heads and faces with whatever was available. Reddie Bayne was knocked off her horse and carried senseless to the wagon; San Sabe swayed in his saddle like a drunken man; Texas Joe tied his coat round his sombrero and yelled when the big hailstones bounced off his head; bloody and bruised, the other drivers resembled men who had engaged in fierce fistic encounters.

I still enjoy Zane Grey’s stories, but keep on wondering how I would read them if I was Native American or African American. Whenever gender bias comes up, I’m jarred out of the flow. That is most likely a good thing and might well have to do with my sense of fairness evolving. Reading stories that were written almost 100 years ago, is always a strange experience. Noting that many stories today are still as problematic is kind of depressing.

During its heyday, between 1867 and 1884, some five million cattle and an equal number of mustangs were moved along the trail. 


The Trail Driver is available for free at Faded Page and Roy Glashan’s Library


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Croatian: Gonič stada; Translator: Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1966
  • Czech: Jezdci z pastvin; Translator:  Jaroslava  Vojtěchová; Praha: Olympia (to 1992), 1965
  • Finnish: Aavikon ratsastaja; Translator: Werner Anttila; Porvoo, Helsinki, W. Söderström, 1939
  • German: In der Prärie; Translator: Dr. Franz Eckstein, Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf, 193
    • Sie kämpften sich durch; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: F. Schneider, 1969
    • In der Prärie; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: Heyne, 1981
  • Hungarian: A vöröshajú leány; Translator: Ruzitska Mária; Budapest, Palladis, 1937
  • Italian: La lunga pista; Translator: Simonetta Damiani; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968 (Cover artist: Guido Crepax)
  • Portugese: O guia da montanha; Translator: Fernanda Pinto Rodrigues; Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, 1959
  • Spanish: El conductor de manadas; Translator: Lino Novás Calvo / José Luis Fernández; Barcelona, Juventud, 1937

Sources

 

 
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Posted by on 2016-06-08 in Books

 

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Films based on “Wildfire”

1922: When Romance Rides (Wildfire)

  • Directed by Jean Hersholt, Eliot Howe and Charles O. Rush
  • Produced by Benjamin B. Hampton
  • Starring Claire Adams, Carl Gantvoort and Jean Hersholt
    • Harry Van Meter, Charles Arling, Mary Jane Irving, Tod Sloan and Audrey Chapman
  • Portugese: Romance da Planície

“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

Reviews:

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1949: Red Canyon (Wildfire)

Red Canyon was one of several medium-budget, Technicolor westerns turned out by Universal-International between 1949 and 1959. Howard Duff plays wandering cowpoke Lin Sloane, who spends most of the film trying to capture a fabled wild stallion. While thus occupied, he finds time to romance Lucy Bostel (Ann Blyth), daughter of the region’s most influential horsebreeder (George Brent). Conflicts arise when Lucy intends to race the captured stallion, much to the dismay of her father; there’s also a major brouhaha involving Sloane’s disreputable family heritage. Red Canyon was adapted by Maurice Geraghty from a rugged novel by Zane Grey. (Film Affinity)

Translation:

  • Austrian: Die rote Schlucht
  • Belgian: Le roi de la vallée
  • Brazil Portugese: Escrava do Ódio
  • Dutch: De Strijd in ‘t rotsgebergte
  • German: Hurrikan (TV) / Die rote Schlucht
  • Danish: De vilde hestes konge
  • Spanish: Huracán
  • Finnish: Tuliharja
  • French: Le mustang noir
  • Greek: Sto farángi tou trómou / Στο φαράγγι του τρόμου
  • Italian: Figlio del delitto
  • Portugese: Sangue Ardente
  • Swedish: De vilda hästarnas dal

Reviews:

  • Fred Blosser: Handsomely mounted and well acted, “Red Canyon” is an engaging, unpretentious tale about second chances that should be better known than it is.”
  • French forum for Western films: “Le jeu des acteurs secondaires est assez intéressant avec un (court) duo étonnant à l’écran : Chill Wills et Edgar Buchanan.”
  • Greenbriars Picture Shows: “… this was among loveliest-shot westerns the decade offered.”
  • James D’Arc: “School was cancelled and workers left their daily labor when Kanab locals were needed to get into costume and become a crowd at the Kanab Race Track for the horse-racing scenes …”
  • Jacqueline T. Lynch (Wonderful review): “Buchanan’s speech is so tangled up in the most outlandish and complicated blustering euphemisms that I’m surprised he could remember half his lines.  I’d love to see the outtakes; they’re real tongue-twisters and he had to have messed up sometimes.”
  • Once upon a time in a Western: “One of the better scenes is watching little Lucy’s reaction as she opens her birthday present from her dad, and finds it complete with corset, bustle and other female do-dads.”
  • Robert Cornell: “Only Chill Will’s typical character acting distinguishes this very minor and rather childish western.”
  • Scott O’Brien: “… Bostel mistakenly buys Lucy a frilly frock for her eighteenth birthday. He may as well have given her a cow pie.”
  • T.M.P., New York Times: “While “Red Canyon” is not a picture to create any special enthusiasm, it runs its course in agreeable enough fashion.”

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2015-09-15 in Movies

 

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Film adaptations of “The Border Legion”

The Border Legion: my book review

1918: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black and white)

  • Produced by Goldwyn Pictures Corporation
  • Directed by T. Hayes Hunter
  • Starring Blanche Bates, Hobart Bosworth and Eugene Strong
    • Kewpie Morgan, Russell Simpson, Arthur Morrison, Bull Montana and Richard Souzade
  • Portugese: A Legião da Fronteira (1922)

Reviews:

 

1924: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black-and-white)

  • Produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation
  • Directed by William K. Howard
  • Starring: Antonio Moreno, Helene Chadwick and Rockliffe Fellowes
    • Gibson Gowland, Charles Ogle, Jim Corey, Eddie Gribbon, Luke Cosgrave
  • French: Les loups de la frontière
  • Portugese: Os Dramas do Oeste

Reviews:

1930: Border Legion (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

  • Produced by Paramount Publix Corporation
  • Directed by Otto Brower & Edwin H Knopf
  • Starring: Richard Arlen, Jack Holt and Fay Wray,
    • Stanley Fields, Eugene Pallette, Stanley Fields, E.H. Calvert and Ethan Allen
  • Austrian: Goldgräber in Not
  • Brazilian Portugese: A Legião dos Celerados
  • Greek: Legeon ton synoron

1934: The Last Round-Up (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

  • Produced by Paramount Pictures
  • Directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Starring: Randolph Scott, Monte Blue and Barbara Fritchie (billed as “Barbara Adams”)
    • Fred Kohler, Fizzy Knight, Richard Carle, Barton MacLand and Charles Middleton
  • Austrian: Todeslegion
  • Brazilian Portugese: O Último Assalto
  • Danish: De Lovløses Brigade
  • Spanish: El último rodeo

Reviews:

  • Mordaunt Hall (New York Times): “… Jim Cleve, a handsome fellow who does not seem to be long on brains …”

1940: Border Legion (West of the Badlands = Television title) (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

  • Produced by Republic Pictures (I)
  • Directed by Joseph Kane
  • Starring Roy Rogers, George (Gabby) Hayes and Carol Hughes
    • Joe Sawyer, Maude Eburne, Jay Novello, Hal Taliaferro and Dick Wessel
  • Brazilian Portugese: Legião da Fronteira
  • Greek: Tromokratai ton synoron

Quotes:

Sheriff Amos Link: Now Steve, what’s on your mind?
Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells: The raid on the bank was staged by only a handful of Legion’s.
Sheriff Amos Link: Same bunch that were shootin’ up the town?
Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells: There scattered all over, but Gulden’s the leader of ’em.
Officer Willets: What’s that name again?
Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells: Gullible, Mr. Gullible.
Officer Willets: I got it, Thanks.

Reviews:

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2015-05-25 in Movies

 

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Film adaptations of Desert Gold (Shower of Gold)

Desert Gold (my book review)

1919: Desert Gold (Silent movie in Black and White)

  • Produced by Zane Grey Pictures
  • Directed by T. Hayes Hunter
  • Starring Edward Klink Lincoln, Eileen Percy, W.H. Bainbridge, Frank Brownlee
    • Lawson Butt, Jeanne Carpenter, Edward Coxen, Beulah Dark Cloud and Mary Jane Irving

1926: Desert Gold: Silent movie in Black and White

  • Produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation
  • Directed by George B. Seitz
  • Starring Neil Hamilton, Shirley Mason, Robert Frazer
    • William Powell, Josef Swickard, George Irving, Eddie Gribbon, Frank Lackteen

Dubbings in:

  • Austrian (1927): Der Schrecken der Steinwüste
  • Portugese: A Protegida
  • French: La roche qui tue
  • Polish: Pustynne zloto

Reviews:

 

1936: Desert Gold (Desert Storm) (Sound and Color)

  • Produced by Paramount Pictures
  • Directed by James P. Hogan
  • Starring Buster Crabbe, Robert Cummings, Marsha Hunt
    • Tom Keene, Leif Erickson, Monte Blue, Raymond Hatton, Walter Miller

Other languages:

  • Danish: Kampen om guldminen
  • Portugese: Roubada a Tempo

Reviews:

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2015-03-01 in Movies

 

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Image

Film adaptation of Arizona Ames

My review of Arizona Ames

1937: Thunder Trail (based on Arizona Ames)

  • Directed by Charles Barton
  • Produced by
  • Starring Gilbert Roland, CharlesBickford, Marsha Hunt
    • J. Carrol Naish, James Craig, Monte Blue, Barlowe Borland, Billy Lee

Reviews:

Translations:

  • Brazilian: Caprichos do Destino
  • UK: Thunder Pass
 
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Posted by on 2015-01-29 in Movies

 

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Films based on Riders of the Purple Sage

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE book

1918: Riders of the Purple Sage

  • Directed by Frank Lloyd
  • Produced by Fox Film Corporation
  • Starring WilliamFarnum and MaryMersch
    • With William Scott, Marc Robbins, Murdock MacQuarrie, Kathryn Adams, Nancy Caswell and J. Holmes

Translated to:

  • Portugese: O Vingador Peregrino
  • Danish: Mormon-Præsten

Reviews:

1925: Riders of the Purple Sage

  • Directed by Lynn Reynolds and Wilfred Lucas
  • Produced by Fox Film Corporation
  • Starring Tom Mix and MabelBallin
    • With Warner Oland, Beatrice Burnham, Arthur Morrison, Wilfred Lucas, Charles Le Moyne, and Harold Goodwin

Reviews:

1931: Riders of the Purple Sage

  • Directed by Hamilton MacFadden
  • Produced by Fox
  • Starring George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill
    • With Noah Beery, Yvonne Pelletier, James Todd, Stanley Fields, Lester Dorr

Also known as:

  • Den maskerade ryttaren (Sweden – 1931)
  • O Salto Decisivo (Portugal – 1933)
  • Ritter der weiten Wüste (Austria)
  • O Passo da Morte (Brazil)
  • L’amazzone mascherata (Italy)
  • Jahaci rumene kadulje (Serbia/Yugoslavia)

Reviews:

1941: Riders of the Purple Sage, (Cavaleiros do Deserto)

  • Directed by James Tinling
  • Produced by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
  • Starring George Montgomery and Mary Howard
    • With Robert Barrat, Lynne Roberts, Kane Richmond, Patsy Patterson, Richard Lane

Reviews:

Riders of the Purple Sage (1996)

  • Directed by Charles Haid
  • Produced by Ed Harris, Thomas John Kane, Amy Madigan, David A. Rosemont, Stella Theodoulou
  • Starring: Ed Harris and Amy Madigan
    • With: Tom Bower, G.D. Spradling, Henry Thomas, Robin Tunney, Norbert Weisser

Reviews:

Awards:

  • 1997: American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Pilots
  • 1997: Western Heritage Awards: Bronze Wrangler: Television Feature Film
 
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Posted by on 2014-11-02 in Movies

 

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Films based on “The Last Trail”

The Last Trail - 1921

1921: The Last Trail

Released in France as L’épervier noir in 1923

Directed by Emmett J. Flynn

Starring: Maurice “Lefty” Flynn, Eva Novak, Wallace Beery, Rosemary Theby, Charles K. French, Harry Spingler, Harry Dunkinson

Reviews:

1927: The Last Trail

The film does not seem similar to the book at all. IMDb gives a short synopsis.

Directed by Lew Seiler

Starring: Tom Mix, Carmelita Geraghty, William Davidson, Frank S. Hagney, Lee Shumway, Robert Brower, Oliver Eckhardt and others, based on a story by Zane Grey,

Reviews:

1933: The Last Trail

Directed by James Tinling

Starring George O’Brien, Claire Trevor, El Brendel, Matt McHugh, J. Carrol Naish, George Reed, Lucille La Verne, Ruth Warren, Luis Alberni and Edward Le Saint

Reviews:

  • El Brendel
  • Hal Erickson
  • Hammond Times, Friday January 19, 1934: “Romance and comedy are reported as the twin keynotes of Zane Grey’s latest film for Fox, “The Last Trail.””

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-09-15 in Movies

 

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