Vitagraph’s Cowboy Girl Westerns

A Girl of the West
R: Unknown. D: Tom Powers, Helen Case, Lillian Christy. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“‘Easy money’ seems to be in sight for ‘Scar-Faced Bill,’ a cattle rustler, when he overhears Jones, a ranch owner, offer John Winthrop $500 for his horse, which Jones very much admires. Bill plans to steal Winthrop’s horse, deliver it to Jones and get away with the money. Winthrop is very much in love with Dolly Dixon, and is very fond of Polly, her youngest sister, who is an excellent horsewoman and a great friend of the cowboys. She happens to be with him when Mr. Jones makes the agreement to buy the horse. ‘Dance Hall Nell’ stands in with ‘Scar-Faced Bill,’ who instructs her to follow him when he gets away with Winthrop’s broncho and to delay, with her winning ways and cajolery, anybody who follows. Early the next morning Polly is out for a ride. She overhears Bill’s friend discussing the stealing of Winthrop’s horse and the carrying out of Bill’s scheme. She spurs her horse and starts at breakneck gallop to warn Mr. Jones. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“In Vitagraph’s A Girl of the West (January 1912), the plucky sister of the hero’s sweetheart does her own horseback riding to single-handedly foil a rustlers’ plot. (…) Reviewing Essanay’s Broncho Billy’s Narrow Escape (July 1912), the ‘Morning Telegraph’ cited the ‘novel turn’ in which a ranchman’s daughter ‘makes a hard ride’ to prevent the lynching of a ranch hand falsely accused of stealing her father’s horse. (…) Although not known as a producer of westerns, Vitagraph released a good number of films in the genre from late 1911 through the first half of 1912, most of them rather different from A Girl of the West. Their chief characteristics were these: they exhibited the ‘quality’ of the company’s most familiar historical films and literary adaptions, they were directed by Sturgeon, and they often told unconventional stories. A good example is How States Are Made (February 1912), which, as the ‘World’ put it, ‘deals with a well-known phase of the Western life that everybody seems to have overlooked in the mad scramble to supply the demand of ‘Western stuff”: the Oklahoma land rush of 1893. The ‘Mirror’ not only praised the feat of depicting hundreds of settlers lined up to dash across the Cherokee Strip but also found the ‘events leading up to the exciting ride’ so convincing ‘that the whole story seems like history instead of acted fiction’. A year later, the ‘Mirror’ cited this film specifically in demonstrating that Sturgeon was a major filmmaker. Another is The Greater Love (May 1912), which, the ‘Mirror’ argued, made ‘an exceptionally virile and decidedly new version of this rather timeworn situation’: an outlaw and a sheriff are rivals for the same woman. (…) The Craven (April 1912) is perhaps the most unusual of all: in the ‘Mirror’s words, ‘a significant example of the peculiarly strong type of Vitagraph Western picture.’ Here a woman discovers the man she has married is really a coward, even though his boastfulness has led to his election as sheriff.”
Richard Abel: Americanizing the Movies and “Movie-Mad” Audiences, 1910-1914. University of California Press 2006, p. 73-74

How States Are Made
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Fred Burns, Anne Schaefer, Robert Thornby, Charles Bennett. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

The Craven
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Robert Thornby, Anne Schaefer, Eagle Eye, Charles Bennett, Fred Burns. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Engl. subtitles