William S. Hart, the illustrious star of early Westerns and one of the most esteemed actors of his time, leads a terrific cast in this groundbreaking film. As a great era in the American West draws to a close with the open... more »ing of the Cherokee Strip, Don Carver (William S. Hart) decides to get in on the rush. But when he's arrested and parted from his new love (Barbara Bedford), he suddenly finds himself in danger of missing the big race, "the biggest stampede in American history." The thrilling climax features the most spectacular Western action scenes ever filmed.« less
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 06/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1925 when TUMBLEWEEDS was released, William S. Hart was 60 years old and been had supplanted at the box office by a host of cowboy stars like Tom Mix who were much flashier and far less realistic. Hart wanted to go out on top and that is just what he did. TUMBLEWEEDS is set during the opening of the Cherokee Strip and his recreation of the mad scramble for the newly opened up Indian lands is a landmark in cinema history which has been copied many times but without the same sense of immediacy that is depicted here.
All the elements of earlier Hart westerns are here, the shy hero, the woman in distress, the 19th century code of honor (Hart was born in 1865), rugged action sequences involving Hart and above all the rugged natural locations of a now vanished West. The production values are high, the photography splendid, and the supporting cast top notch especially Barbara Bedford as Hart's love interest Molly. Bedford played strong independent women during her brief career most notably in the 1920 LAST OF THE MOHICANS.
This new DVD release is an enhanced copy of the old Killiam Collection VHS version that has been around for a while but it has never looked this good. Also included is the 1939 eight minute prologue that Hart did for the film's reissue. Hart was 74 by this time and his recounting of the making of his films and the Old West that he knew is not only informative but also quite poignant. This film is his lasting legacy, a legacy that stretches from Gary Cooper to Clint Eastwood, and it's great to have it on DVD at last."
Women ain?t reliable. Cows are.
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"TUMBLEWEEDS is a fitting coda to the career of arguably the greatest cowboy star of the silent era, William S. Hart. It is also a grand introduction to a viewer unfamiliar with his work.
Usually I don't mind watching a dvd in sequence, but TUMBLEWEEDS opens with an introduction, "Farewell to the Screen," Hart filmed for the 1939 reissue of his 1925 silent classic. Hart, decked out in cowboy hat and bandana against a desert landscape tells us a little about the film - it's about the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1889. He also tells us why he retired from movies and how important his career was to him. Listening to him we hear a speech that borders on the maudlin, and the impression isn't relieved much by the swelling violin under-score. Hart's voice reminds me a bit of a water-down Franklin Roosevelt (Hart was born in New York and moved west in his youth.) None of this is unpleasant or even out of place, but it leaves an incongruous memory when the title card reads a drawling "varmint" or "I reckon." If you're new to Hart, as I was, I'd suggest you watch the movie before playing the introduction.
Hart plays `tumbleweed' Dan Carver. A tumbleweed, Carver explains to pretty Molly Lassiter (Barbara Bedford), is a footloose and rootless man of the open range. Hart was 60 years old when TUMBLEWEEDS was filmed, and although he probably never looked his age (he just wore that bandana higher and higher off his neck, I guess) it's a little strange to see him aw-shucks a-courting the 23-year-old Bedford.
Well, the love story is secondary, anyway. TUMBLEWEEDS is famous for the opening of the strip scene, and the sequence leading to the "maddest stampede in American history" is brilliantly edited. It is a quick cut montage of troopers checking their pocket watches to a penned Hart to the anxious and distraught girl to yet another shot of an advancing wall clock. Finally the cannon is shot and the race is on. It's a timelessly beautiful bit of film art.
Another scene I was particularly fond of occurred a little earlier in the movie. The government ordered all cattle removed from the strip prior to the run of the homesteaders. Hart, riding point, and four other tumbleweeds rest their horses on a rise and watch the cattle being rounded out. The men identify the vanishing herds - those are the Circle Dot, those are the Diamond Bar. Hart removes his hat and announces "Boys, it's the last of the west." The others remove their hats as well and the camera holds them in a medium long shot for a few long seconds before fading to silhouette and then to black. It's a understated moment, and the fact that it comes in Hart's final western gives it an added poignancy.
TUMBLEWEEDS was transferred from a restored print, but the restoration was done in 1975. Anyone expecting a digital restoration will be disappointed. There are scratches and flares a-plenty, although not to the point of distraction. It also contains the "original piano score" of William Perry. The score was written for the 1975 restoration and not for the original release. Still, it adds rather than detracts from the movie.
TUMBLEWEEDS will reward anyone willing to give a silent movie a go. The acting is naturalistic, there's plenty of action and the good guys win in the end. Heck, we don't even have to squirm through the hero kissing the girl (although I think I remember seeing Hart give his horse a quick peck.) What more could you ask for?"
5 Star movie but a 2 star restoration
Richard in Indy | 07/28/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This version of "Tumbleweeds" from Image Entertainment was a great disappointment to me. The William S. Hart classic deserves better treatment. Billed as a "restored" version, it is anything but. The print is scratchy and grainy. To make things worse, some of the original opening title sequences have been replaced with modern computer generated titles. The black and white movie has been tinted to a yellowish sepia tone further detracting from the original film. Better copies are available on budget labels."
A Western classic with a legendary star
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 02/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, there was William S. Hart, whose immensely popular Westerns of the silent era set the mould for all good Westerns to come, and "Tumbleweeds" is a shining example. With authentic-looking sets and characters, Hart's Westerns made the American West vividly come back to life, and although no speech is heard in these silent films, the intertitles succinctly convey the language and mentality of the time. In "Tumbleweeds" this time is of the real-life event when the Cherokee Strip was opened to homesteaders resulting in `the biggest stampede in American history', and these exciting action scenes are some of the highlights of this film. Like all of Hart's Westerns, a realistic feeling of the times is created by use of various details such as the different brand names of the cattle herds and ranches which were driven out of their grazing land by the Government's decree to open the land to settlers. But despite Hart's stony-faced demeanour which is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in his popular Westerns, he still manages to bring his characters to life with a surprising depth of feeling. Alongside the historic action and drama, a romance and some criminal intrigue all make for a good story which has suspense and a few moments of humour. This restored version from the Killiam Collection has very good picture quality and a standard piano accompaniment, but the highlight on this DVD is the 1936 introduction spoken by William S. Hart himself, giving quite a moving and theatrical tribute to the West, while also revealing his own deep passion for making motion picture Westerns. Along with my personal favourite Hart Western "The Toll Gate", this film ranks with the best silent films of this genre, and while its production might not be as grand and smooth as John Ford's "The Iron Horse" for example, it is the star, William S. Hart, who makes his Westerns stand out and be popular all these decades later. "
Silent Classic Deserves a Better Print
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 04/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Though it's great to have William S. Hart's "Tumbleweeds" on DVD, the overall print quality is disappointing. Fortunately, I still own the Blackhawk Films videocassette, which features an excellent transfer and Hart's poignant 1939 introduction. Why Image Entertainment did not use the untinted Blackhawk print remains a mystery. One hopes this 1925 classic will receive the full restoration it so richly deserves."