The Californian


58m 1937

Brief Synopsis

Native son returns from school in Spain to California in 1855 and finds corrupt politicians stealing land from old California families. He becomes a sort of Robin Hood in order to fight them.

Film Details

Also Known As
Harold Bell Wrights The Californian, The Gentleman from California
Release Date
Jul 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Principal Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,238ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

In California during the mid-1800's, Don Francisco Escobar, a wealthy rancher, throws a party for his young son Ramon before sending him to Seville, Spain to learn to be a gentleman. Ramon and his sweetheart, Rosalia Miller, say their tender goodbyes. Many years later, after the gold rush is over and California has been made part of the United States, a grown Ramon returns from Spain to find that the land and wealth of his people are being plundered by Americans using outrageous tax assessments. These Americans, led by the ruthless Tod Barsto and Sheriff Stanton, have taken Don Francisco's holdings, leaving him poor and helpless. Ramon, donning a black mask and riding a black stallion, assaults Barsto's henchmen and retakes his father's money. At the Escobar ranch, Barsto and his men confront Ramon, who admits his guilt and flees into the countryside, accompanied by his faithful friend Pancho. Later, Ramon sneaks back to see a fearful Rosalia and comforts her by saying, "It is the way of the Californianos." That night, Ramon breaks into Barsto's office, steals a bundle of papers and puts them into his saddlebags for future use. With Pancho, he then rides to the lair of the bandit Ruiz and his gang. Ramon tries to convince Ruiz to join forces with him against the gold-rich Americans, but Ruiz is reluctant to give up his power. His wife Chata, however, supports Ramon and helps him become the leader. When Ramon and the bandits rob a convoy of Barsto's gold, Ruiz wants to keep the money, but Ramon, now known as the "Californian," distributes it to the poor. Furious at Ramon's escapades, Barsto and Stanton send for a marshal from San Francisco and offer a $5,000 reward for Ramon's capture, dead or alive. During a raid on one of Barsto's ranches, Ruiz shoots a peasant, and Ramon tells him he must leave the gang. Ruiz refuses to go and challenges Ramon to a duel using lassos. After Ramon wins, Ruiz takes many of the bandits and leaves. Although Chata wants to stay with Ramon, he tells her that her place is with Ruiz, so she reluctantly follows her husband. The rebuffed Chata then convinces Ruiz to pursue the reward and negotiates with Barsto and Stanton for a bigger payoff. Claiming that Ramon needs her, Chata tricks Rosalia into riding to Ruiz's remote hideout and then sends word to Ramon to meet them alone and unarmed. Before he goes, Ramon gives the saddlebags containing Barsto's papers to Pancho, instructing him to deliver them to the newly arrived marshal. After Ruiz captures and ties Ramon to a tree, he receives his reward from Barsto's men -- a bullet in the belly. Having disobeyed Ramon's orders, Pancho rushes with the remaining bandits to rescue Ramon. After the ensuing fight, Barsto wrests the incriminating papers from Pancho and rides away, but Ramon, freed by Chata, rides after Barsto, lassos him and recovers the papers. Marshal Morse, using the papers as evidence, arrests Barsto. Later, at Ramon and Rosalia's wedding, Morse complains that he failed to capture the Californian, and Don Francisco, looking at the happy newlyweds, replies, "I believe he is in safe hands."

Film Details

Also Known As
Harold Bell Wrights The Californian, The Gentleman from California
Release Date
Jul 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Principal Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,238ft (7 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The title of the viewed print was The Gentleman from California. A studio trade paper billing sheet lists the film as "Harold Bell Wright's The Californian." SAB states that Bell's story was unpublished. Reviews note that the lead character was based on the historical figure Joaquin Murieta. For information on Murieta and other films about him, please see the entry above for The Avenger, a 1931 Columbia production. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Richard Arlen was originally cast in the lead role, but he was replaced by Ricardo Cortez a week before shooting began. A Motion Picture Herald news item notes that Charles Art Powell, who wrote under the pen name of Gordon Newell, instituted an injunction for $30,000 damages against Sol Lesser, Principal Productions, Inc., Harold Bell Wright and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., charging that he did not receive sufficient exploitation or screen credit for the film. No further information has been located concerning the injunction.