When a Man's a Man


60m 1935

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 15, 1935
Premiere Information
World premiere in San Francisco: 29 Jan 1935
Production Company
Atherton Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel When a Man's a Man by Harold Bell Wright (New York, 1916).

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Film Length
6,048ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

Larry Knight, down to his last $200 after spending his inheritance quickly and recklessly, realizes that he has no objective in life. After flipping a coin, he takes a train to California, and during a twenty-minute stopover, wanders to a rodeo where fifty dollars is offered to anyone who can stay on a bucking bronco from the nearby Cross Triangle ranch. Following the failure of the ranch's foreman, Phil Acton, Larry realizes that riding the horse is an objective, and tries, but he is thrown off almost immediately. As the horse is about to stomp on Larry, Phil ropes it and pulls it away. After Larry's train leaves without him, he wanders to a bar, where Kitty Baldwin, who owns the Cross Triangle with her father Dean, is arguing about a dispute involving water with Nick Cambert, the owner of the bordering ranch. Because of a landslide across a creek, which was secretly caused by Cambert, water has not been able to reach the Cross Triangle from Cambert's land, and as a result, Kitty's cattle are dying. She has taken the case to court, but because the case could take months, she stands to lose all her cattle. After Kitty refuses Cambert's offer to buy the ranch for the small sum of $8,000, Cambert tries to touch her, but Larry intercedes and asks Cambert for information about the next train, allowing Kitty to leave. Again Larry flips a coin to decide what to do, and now he heads for the Cross Triangle ranch. He tries again to ride the bucking horse, and although he is thrown, Phil hires him as a hand. Kitty, whom Phil has loved since childhood, but who has changed in her affection for him since she returned from college, is pleased to see Larry again. After Larry, acting as if he does not know what he is doing, pulls a staple from the gate that separates Kitty's cows from a lake on Cambert's property, the cows quench their thirst. Kitty is impressed with Larry's ingenuity, but Phil suspects that he is trying to double-cross him with her. Larry has an idea to dig a well to get seepage water, and as the well is being dug, he reveals to Kitty, who joins him in the well's adjoining tunnel, that he plans to explode dynamite under Cambert's lake so that the water will fill the well and thus satisfy the cattle until the rains come. Finding them together in the tunnel, Phil's suspicions are aroused. When he asks Kitty if she loves Larry and she doesn't answer, Phil vows to quit. Cambert gets Phil drunk, and from Phil's babbling, Cambert is able to guess Larry's plans with the well. When Kitty tells Larry that Phil plans to quit, Larry packs to leave. He tries once more to ride the bucking horse before he goes, but the horse escapes. The next day, Cambert tells Dean that he knows of the plot, and Dean agrees to sell for $8,000. When Phil tries to hit Larry, Larry knocks Phil down, but then explains that he is leaving. Unsure if he told Cambert about the tunnel, Phil tells Larry that Dean has gone to sell the ranch to Cambert. Larry learns that Kitty has taken the dynamite and rides to the well. While she is planting the dynamite, a cave-in blocks her retreat. Cambert shoots Larry's horse in the leg, but Larry sees the bucking horse on a ridge and lassoes it and brings it down so that he can saddle it. Larry stays on the horse this time and rides to the well. Meanwhile, Phil steals the contract and also heads for the well. Cambert sets the fuse to blow up the well, not believing Larry when he says that Kitty is down there. Larry fights Cambert and then retrieves the dynamite and digs Kitty out, while Phil engages in a gunfight with Cambert. After Phil captures Cambert, Larry sets off the dynamite in the tunnel, and the water fills the well and overflows the land, to the delight of the cattle. Larry rides off, but Phil, seeing that Kitty cries when she sees him go, sends him back to her. As Phil then leaves, Kitty kisses and embraces Larry.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 15, 1935
Premiere Information
World premiere in San Francisco: 29 Jan 1935
Production Company
Atherton Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel When a Man's a Man by Harold Bell Wright (New York, 1916).

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Film Length
6,048ft (7 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Some scenes in this film were shot on location at St. George, Utah. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, George O'Brien planned to attend the world premiere in San Francisco. Sol Lesser's Principal Pictures produced a film with the same title based on the same source in 1924, which was distributed by Associated First National Pictures, and was also directed by Edward F. Cline. That film starred John Bowers, Marguerite De La Motte and Robert Frazier (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.6231). In 1949, Windsor Productions produced a film entitled Massacre River based on the same source, which was distributed by Allied Artists, co-produced by Julian Lesser, Sol Lesser's son, and Frank Melford, directed by John Rawlins, and starred Guy Madison and Rory Calhoun.