Painted Desert


58m 1938
Painted Desert

Brief Synopsis

A cowboy and a bandit face off over possession of a valuable mine.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Western
Release Date
Aug 12, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,288ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

While riding his range land with friends Steve and Placer Bill, ranch owner Bob McVey notices a "squatters" mining operation and stops to investigate. In the squatters' cabin, Bob finds a letter addressed to Charles Banning from mining investor Hugh Fawcett, which states that the assay reports on Banning's ore samples show little tungsten or other valuable minerals. After reading the letter, Bob is surprised by Banning's pretty granddaughter Carol, who angrily shows him the door with her rifle. Struck by the feisty Carol, Bob remains silent about her trespassing and goes to town to inquire about Banning's claim. In the meantime, a broke Banning accepts Hugh Fawcett's offer to buy his mining rights for $500. For $2,000, Bob then buys the mine from the double-dealing Fawcett, but learns that a new assay test shows a considerable amount of marketable deposits. To rid himself of the Bannings, Fawcett orders Bart Currie to provoke Banning into a deadly saloon fight. Now orphaned, Carol joins forces with saloon owner Yukon Kate, who sells her business in order to invest in the mine. Out of love, Bob persuades Carol, who is unaware that he legally owns the mine, to go into partnership with him. Determined to reclaim the mine for himself, however, Fawcett causes the mining operation to fall behind schedule by planting some of his men in the works, and then buys out Bob's bank loans from Heist, a crooked banker. Unable to extend or increase his loans, Bob decides to sell off his cattle in order to meet his payroll and curb the growing unrest among his workers, which has been encouraged by Kincaid, one of Fawcett's gang. Although Fawcett tries to prevent Bob from getting his cattle to market, Bob secures enough money to pay his miners. To make the loan deadlines, Bob then pushes the miners to get out two shipments of ore. On the way to town, Fawcett and his men drive one of Bob's wagons over a cliff, then plant explosives in the mining caves. Fawcett, however, is killed by his own dynamite, and although their mine is ruined, Bob and Carol, who has finally learned of Bob's generosity, vow to rebuild and make their partnership permanent.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Western
Release Date
Aug 12, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,288ft (6 reels)

Articles

The Painted Desert (1938)


Few viewers of this low-budget RKO Western could have guessed that within a few years leading lady Laraine Johnson would become a star at MGM as Laraine Day, best known as Nurse Mary Lamont, Lew Ayres's love interest in the Dr. Kildare movies. She stars here as the granddaughter of a miner caught squatting on cowboy George O'Brien's land. One look at Day and O'Brien feels compelled to help the pair out, which includes picking up the rights to their supposedly worthless mine from local swindler Fred Kohler. No sooner is the ink dry on the contract, than Kohler discovers the mine is far from worthless and sets his goons to work trying to keep O'Brien from making anything off his purchase. O'Brien had been a silent film star in pictures like John Ford's The Iron Horse (1924) and F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927). His popularity was already slipping when sound came in, but with his natural athletic prowess and horsemanship he had no trouble transitioning to low-budget Westerns, where he made his living until signing up for military duty during World War II. Among the recurring elements of his Westerns were sidekicks Ray Whitley and Stanley Fields and director David Howard.

By Frank Miller
The Painted Desert (1938)

The Painted Desert (1938)

Few viewers of this low-budget RKO Western could have guessed that within a few years leading lady Laraine Johnson would become a star at MGM as Laraine Day, best known as Nurse Mary Lamont, Lew Ayres's love interest in the Dr. Kildare movies. She stars here as the granddaughter of a miner caught squatting on cowboy George O'Brien's land. One look at Day and O'Brien feels compelled to help the pair out, which includes picking up the rights to their supposedly worthless mine from local swindler Fred Kohler. No sooner is the ink dry on the contract, than Kohler discovers the mine is far from worthless and sets his goons to work trying to keep O'Brien from making anything off his purchase. O'Brien had been a silent film star in pictures like John Ford's The Iron Horse (1924) and F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927). His popularity was already slipping when sound came in, but with his natural athletic prowess and horsemanship he had no trouble transitioning to low-budget Westerns, where he made his living until signing up for military duty during World War II. Among the recurring elements of his Westerns were sidekicks Ray Whitley and Stanley Fields and director David Howard. By Frank Miller

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Trivia

Notes

Modern sources add Jim Mason (Hank), Ray Jones (Man in bar), Ken Card and The Phelps Brothers (Musicians) and Jack O'Shea, Robert Burns and Fred Burns (Miners) to the cast. In 1931, RKO released its first filmed version of this story, which was called The Painted Desert .