GABLE'S TALKIE DEBUT
scotsladdie | 05/19/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Cash and Jeff come across an abandoned baby in the Painted Desert; both want the baby, but Cash claims it as his own. Over the years, the former pals display animosity in an ongoing dispute over cattle, mining and water rights. Meanwhile, the baby boy, Bill grows into a strapping young man........The real star of this Pathe antique is the beautiful scenery. The photography is beautiful in this slightly stiff production which is mainly notable for Gable's talkie debut as bad guy, Brett (who blows up Boyd's mine!) The now rarely-seen Helen Twelvetrees (yes, that was her REAL married name) plays Mary Ellen Cameron."
Needs a new coat
Steven Hellerstedt | 10/01/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Even though this is Clark Gable's first appearance in a sound movie - `sound' as in `synchronized noise,' not `sound' as in `free from defects and structurally complete' - THE PAINTED DESERT is a pretty wretched early talkie. The real star of the movie is William Boyd, better known to a couple of generations as Hopalong Cassidy. The movie begins with a couple of dust busting cowboys discovering an infant in a deserted camp. The cowboys care for, argue over, and ultimately part as enemies over the foundling. One carries off the baby to raise as a son, the other sets up a homestead at a desert watering hole.
The baby grows up to be Bill Holbrook (Boyd), while the waterhole cowboy marries, gets widdered, and has a pretty young daughter name of Mary Ellen (Helen Twelvetrees.) Papa Holbrook is a well-to-do cattle rancher while Mary Ellen's father is barely scratching out an existence until beau Bill discovers tungsten ore on his land. The set up being - the two feuding ex-partners will be reunited when the young `uns are united in matrimony, and prosperity, by cattle or tungsten ore, will bring peace to the valley. Enter Clark Gable, here playing a character named Rance Brett, an interloping desert Iago who sees that his best chance with Mary Ellen will only be realized if the old feud can be kept a-boiling.
This would be an alright western if it had a better plot, or the actors didn't talk so very, very slow, or if the direction/editing didn't keep you wondering things like `How did that injured cowboy get shot?' In other words, it'd be okay if everything in it were different. Although Gable is a catalyst for most of the action THE PAINTED DESERT is only going to appeal to die-hard fans of his, or Hoppy's. Also included on the Laserlight discount release is the 28-minute `Clark Gable on Film,' which is nothing more than a compilation of Gable trailers (China Sea, Lone Star, To Please a Lady, Mutiny on the Bounty, etc.) and publicity stills linked by a superficial narration (`Gable spent most of his life unconsciously looking to replace his dead mother....') Disappointing on every level.
One of the better early sound westerns.
rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, California | 09/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two long time friends find a baby boy left behind within an abandoned camp in old Arizona, and their conflict over who should take charge of the infant quickly lowers their relationship to the freezing point, where it remains for over 20 years although they are neighbouring ranchers, and the grown youth's attempt to bring about a reconciliation forms the heart of this interesting early western. William Boyd, later renowned as Hopalong Cassidy, is featured as the young man, Bill, raised by Cash Holbrook (William Farnum), with J. Farrell MacDonald as Jeff Cameron, the other of the feuding pair, and when Bill, a mining engineer, discovers a valuable lode of tungsten ore on Cameron's land, he forthwith fosters a mining project which he believes will be putting an end to the longstanding conflict. Actually filmed in Arizona's scenic Painted Desert region, the work is efficiently directed by Howard Higgin, who is abetted by the fine camerawork of Edward Snyder, with excellent sets arranged by Carroll Clark, and the cast generally performs well, a strong performance being given by Clark Gable as a completely unrepentant villain, only the tasteless characterization by Helen Twelvetrees as Cameron's daughter tainting the production.