Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Lawless Frontier

The Lawless Frontier is the oldest film I have seen. It was made in 1935 (or 1934 as per IMDb). It is black and white and stars John Wayne, who of course is very young in the film and still has all of his Western cred for which he is well known. In 1935 the United States was (as I understand) just beginning to come out of The Great Depression. And of course the infamous Hitler ruled Germany - am I mistaken or the villain in The Lawless Frontier has a curious resemblence to the Fuhrer (especially the moustache)? The film has some terrific horse chase scenes - caused me to wonder whether those horses were fed well in those days when people were anaemic or were they merely whipped harder for the scenes in the film?! The lead actress Sheila Terry wears pants throughout The Lawless Frontier. And she rides a horse too (or rather several horses). The first woman to fly around the world, Amelia Earhart, used to wear pants. I know that because I once saw several of her photographs at an exhibition in Queens, NY. I hope women wearing pants did not draw as much attention as Amelia seems to draw here!

But I digress.

I am impressed by The Lawless Frontier. For a film that runs just 49 minutes (I hope they had made that standard), the script has surprising twists. Also surprising are the numerous sub-genres - there is drama, suspense, action as well as good 'ol Western theaterics.

I visited the hypothetical State of Jefferson today. The towns of Grenanda, Yreka and Hombrook in Northern California and Ashland in Oregon, and the region around river Klamathon might as well have been straight out of The Lawless Frontier. For miles there is only untouched land, beautiful mountains, valleys and forests. Now I cannot but wonder how crossing all that land must have felt like on a horse or on foot, when the first mass migrants arrived in this region, a mere 110 years before The Lawless Frontier was made.

Mount Shasta
Today evening the mountain had a cloud cover just like this one - A volcano with a halo of its own!

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