Tumbleweeds


1h 20m 1925

Brief Synopsis

The government will grant a fringe of terrain for the settlers who want to live and work there. The starting sign will be a gunshot which will iniciate the run for the best fields and claims.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 27, 1925
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 20 Dec 1925
Production Company
William S. Hart Co.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
7,254ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

In 1889 the Cherokee Strip is opened to homesteaders, and Don Carver, one of the self-styled "tumbleweeds" and range boss of the Box K Ranch, finds himself out of a job. He meets and falls in love with Molly Lassiter, who belongs to one of the many families of homesteaders who have gathered in Caldwell, Kansas, for the big land rush. Don decides to sign up for a piece of land and hopes to claim the site of the Box K ranchhouse, which controls the water for the strip. Molly's evil half-brother, Noll, and Bill Freel, Don's rival for Molly's hand, conspire to have Don arrested as a "sooner" when he tries to round up some stray cattle in the Strip. Don breaks out of the stockade to join the rush, but he finds Noll and Freel already at the ranchhouse when he arrives. Don evicts them, and troopers arrive and arrest the two as "sooners." Molly finally consents to be Don's wife.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 27, 1925
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 20 Dec 1925
Production Company
William S. Hart Co.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
7,254ft (7 reels)

Articles

Tumbleweeds - A Landmark Silent Era Western


Silent film fans take note! Image Entertainment is releasing several landmark silent films from the Killiam Collection on DVD this summer including The Eagle (1925) starring Rudolph Valentino, and The Beloved Rogue (1927), a historic adventure with John Barrymore as French patriot and poet Francois Villon (we'll review them both in the near future). However, the spotlight this month is on Tumbleweeds, a frontier epic which was first released in 1925 and later reissued in 1939 with a prologue by its star, William S. Hart. It is the latter version that is being featured on DVD through Image.

The Tumbleweeds storyline could very well be the prototype for all classic Westerns: an itinerant cowboy named Don Carver (William S. Hart) encounters an endless procession of settlers arriving in his town, all of them anxious to participate in the upcoming land rush. Even Don decides to enter the homesteading race after he falls in love with Molly Lassiter (Barbara Bedford), a pretty Easterner who wants a home of her own. There's one problem - her brother is a bad seed and he's in cahoots with a crooked businessman who has designs on Molly. Together these black-hearted villains plot to get Carver arrested as a "Sooner" (a trespasser who tries to claim choice land before the race officially begins) while taking control of the Box K ranch, the most valuable property in the area.

The final film for cowboy star William S. Hart, Tumbleweeds is a landmark entry in the Western genre for several reasons. Not only does it feature Hart in his greatest role but it also details an important chapter in American history - the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1889. This was an event that marked the end of the "wild West" and the beginning of a major western expansion, drawing settlers from all parts of America and beyond. In fact, near the beginning of the film, Hart's character laments the passing of the wilderness when he refuses to shoot a rattlesnake, reasoning that it has more right to live on the prairie than any of these Eastern land grabbers.

On a purely visual level, Tumbleweeds is a wonderfully evocative Western, bringing to life another time and place in America. Film historian Georges Sadoul best summed up the film's appeal in Dictionary of Films when he wrote "The climactic land rush is one of the cinema's most bravura action sequences, impeccably constructed and edited and with some virtuoso trick riding by Hart. The pure morality of Hart's character may seem naive, but the authentic flavor of a "wild, lost America" and the evocation of the pioneering spirit gives Tumbleweeds a sense of poignant poetry." Some parts of the film, quite frankly, don't age as well such as the comic relief provided by Lucien Littlefield as Carver's sidekick, Kentucky Rose (It was the only time Hart ever had a sidekick, he always rode solo). The broadly melodramatic treatment of the villains is also a product of its time; one of the men is so bad he bullies small boys and dogs. But there are odd touches too. During the land rush sequence we get a quick glimpse of a man riding a unicycle and some of the title cards are worth quoting: Example: "Women ain't reliable - cows are - that's why I'm headin' for South America where there's millions of 'em."

The DVD presentation of Tumbleweeds is quite good despite some expected film scratches and minor damage on the original film elements for the 1925 release. The music score is by William Perry and the restoration is credited to Karl Malkames. Other than the eighteen-chaptered scene selections, there are no extras unless you count the opening "screen farewell" by Hart, which was filmed in 1939 at the Horseshoe Ranch in Newhall, California. Though a bit flowery by today's standards, Hart's parting speech demonstrates his background as a Shakespearean actor. His reading is highly dramatic with his voice alternately rising, falling and quavering at key moments. It's a different type of performance from the one he gives in Tumbleweeds but it's essential viewing for anyone interested in Hart's film persona or his reputation as one of the screen's first Western heroes.

For more information on Tumbleweeds, visit Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Tumbleweeds, visit Movies Unlimited.

By Jeff Stafford
Tumbleweeds - A Landmark Silent Era Western

Tumbleweeds - A Landmark Silent Era Western

Silent film fans take note! Image Entertainment is releasing several landmark silent films from the Killiam Collection on DVD this summer including The Eagle (1925) starring Rudolph Valentino, and The Beloved Rogue (1927), a historic adventure with John Barrymore as French patriot and poet Francois Villon (we'll review them both in the near future). However, the spotlight this month is on Tumbleweeds, a frontier epic which was first released in 1925 and later reissued in 1939 with a prologue by its star, William S. Hart. It is the latter version that is being featured on DVD through Image. The Tumbleweeds storyline could very well be the prototype for all classic Westerns: an itinerant cowboy named Don Carver (William S. Hart) encounters an endless procession of settlers arriving in his town, all of them anxious to participate in the upcoming land rush. Even Don decides to enter the homesteading race after he falls in love with Molly Lassiter (Barbara Bedford), a pretty Easterner who wants a home of her own. There's one problem - her brother is a bad seed and he's in cahoots with a crooked businessman who has designs on Molly. Together these black-hearted villains plot to get Carver arrested as a "Sooner" (a trespasser who tries to claim choice land before the race officially begins) while taking control of the Box K ranch, the most valuable property in the area. The final film for cowboy star William S. Hart, Tumbleweeds is a landmark entry in the Western genre for several reasons. Not only does it feature Hart in his greatest role but it also details an important chapter in American history - the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1889. This was an event that marked the end of the "wild West" and the beginning of a major western expansion, drawing settlers from all parts of America and beyond. In fact, near the beginning of the film, Hart's character laments the passing of the wilderness when he refuses to shoot a rattlesnake, reasoning that it has more right to live on the prairie than any of these Eastern land grabbers. On a purely visual level, Tumbleweeds is a wonderfully evocative Western, bringing to life another time and place in America. Film historian Georges Sadoul best summed up the film's appeal in Dictionary of Films when he wrote "The climactic land rush is one of the cinema's most bravura action sequences, impeccably constructed and edited and with some virtuoso trick riding by Hart. The pure morality of Hart's character may seem naive, but the authentic flavor of a "wild, lost America" and the evocation of the pioneering spirit gives Tumbleweeds a sense of poignant poetry." Some parts of the film, quite frankly, don't age as well such as the comic relief provided by Lucien Littlefield as Carver's sidekick, Kentucky Rose (It was the only time Hart ever had a sidekick, he always rode solo). The broadly melodramatic treatment of the villains is also a product of its time; one of the men is so bad he bullies small boys and dogs. But there are odd touches too. During the land rush sequence we get a quick glimpse of a man riding a unicycle and some of the title cards are worth quoting: Example: "Women ain't reliable - cows are - that's why I'm headin' for South America where there's millions of 'em." The DVD presentation of Tumbleweeds is quite good despite some expected film scratches and minor damage on the original film elements for the 1925 release. The music score is by William Perry and the restoration is credited to Karl Malkames. Other than the eighteen-chaptered scene selections, there are no extras unless you count the opening "screen farewell" by Hart, which was filmed in 1939 at the Horseshoe Ranch in Newhall, California. Though a bit flowery by today's standards, Hart's parting speech demonstrates his background as a Shakespearean actor. His reading is highly dramatic with his voice alternately rising, falling and quavering at key moments. It's a different type of performance from the one he gives in Tumbleweeds but it's essential viewing for anyone interested in Hart's film persona or his reputation as one of the screen's first Western heroes. For more information on Tumbleweeds, visit Image Entertainment, Inc.. To purchase a copy of Tumbleweeds, visit Movies Unlimited. By Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Some contemporary sources indicated that William S. Hart co-directed the film with King Baggot. Although several contemporary sources credited actor George F. Marion as "Old man," Marion was not in the film, and the identity of the actor who portrayed the old man has not been determined.
       Tumbleweeds was the last film of noted Western star William S. Hart (1865-1946). The picture was re-issued in 1939, at which time Hart appeared in a new, spoken word prologue in which he briefly reflected on his career in motion pictures. The re-issue prologue marked Hart's final screen appearance.