This silent film tells the epic tale of a New York engineer sent out West to tame the mighty Colorado River with the promise of bringing water to the California desert to turn it into a prosperous paradise, but avaricious motives are soon revealed. There’s also a love triangle with Willard Holmes (Ronald Coleman), the stodgy engineer, vying with rugged cowboy Abe Lee (Gary Cooper) for the affections of child of the desert, Barbara Worth (Vilma Banky).
More melodrama than drama, AT GUNPOINT features Fred MacMurray as Jack Wright, the owner of the general store in the town of Plainview, who’s never handled a gun before but his very lucky shot wounds a bank robber who’s then shot dead by a local rancher. The robber’s brother, Bob Dennis (Skip Homeier), vows cruel vengeance.
It was Kirk Ellis’s choice for our February film and he chose last year’s NEWS OF THE WORLD.
Based on the novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles, a National Book Award finalist (which I have not read), the story is set five years after the end of the Civil War in Reconstruction Texas still occupied by Union army soldiers.
A contemporary Western and one of the best films about the changing West, HUD (1963) was my selection for our January meeting. It tells the story of a Texas cattle ranching family in bitter conflict over its past and future. Hud Bannon (Paul Newman) is a charming but womanizing scoundrel. His father, Homer (Melvyn Douglas), an honorable old Westerner, can’t abide his son’s reckless, selfish ways. Between them is Hud’s teenaged nephew Lon (Brandon de Wilde) who loves his grandfather but also wants to be like his uncle. And there’s Alma (Patricia Neal), the Bannon’s housekeeper. Vivacious and earthy, she brings some stability, though fragile, to the Bannon home.