R: Charles Swickard, William S. Hart. B: C. Gardner Sullivan. K: Joseph H. August. D: William S. Hart, Clara Williams, Jack Standing, Alfred Hollingsworth. P: Kay-Bee Pictures. USA 1916
“This is an unusual Western which uses the freedom which existed before the Hays Code to cast as a villain a faithless Reverend who gets drunk in the local saloon, spends the night with one of the saloon girls and takes part in the arson of his own church. Opposite him we find the Reverend’s saintly sister, adequately called Faith, and the big gun Blaze who was determined to get rid of the parson but falls in love with Faith and because of that start believing in God, protects the justs and destroys the villains. Apart from the parsons who is torn between good and evil, the characters are quite unidimensional and racist stereotypes are present, in this case concerning Mexicans. The sudden transformation of Blaze from bad to good is a bit too sudden to be credible. The cinematography is quite innovative for the time with the use notably of a very wide shot with extended panning to follow a stage coach travelling in the hills. Editing is dynamic with efficient use of cross-cutting. Most of the action is filmed outdoor with the reconstitution of a Wild West settlement which is entirely burned down at the end. Sepia, blue and red tainting are used to convey the atmosphere of different scenes. Humour is also present e.g. when we are shown how the parsons imagines the West. The moralizing ending where the bad are punished is a bit less satisfactory.”
A Cinema History
“Hart was brought up in the Dakotas, where he lived until he was 16. He made his first appearance on the stage in 1889 and soon made a name for himself, especially for his performances in Shakespearean plays. In 1905 his role in the play ‘The Squaw Man’ made him a western hero. After acting in the stage productions of ‘The Virginian’ (1907) and ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ (1912/14), he went to Hollywood, where his portrayals of stern, taciturn Westerners became enormously successful. He directed and starred in a number of films for Thomas H. Inces movie company, creating harshly realistic films of frontier life that were popular throughout the world. Among his pictures were Hells Hinges (1916), The Dawn Maker (1916), Truthful Tulliver (1916), and The Square Deal Man (1917). Hart also wrote and produced many of his movies.”
William S. Hart
TRAUM UND EXZESS, S. 346 ff.