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Wagon Tracks
(1919) - Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Western / Drama
"This man killed my brother!"

Going through more war movies and westerns, I wanted to check out some really early movies by the directors who pioneered these genres. And by really early, I mean I wanted more silent movies after watching Abel Gance's J'Accuse. I looked through a few but I couldn't find some online. Finally I found this movie by the director who started the Durango Kid movie series, so before watching the original Durango Kid film, I went with one of his silent films first.

In this early western, a desert rider learns that his brother has been accidentally shit by a young woman named Jane. Little does the man know that Jane is actually covering for her own brother, who was caught gambling by the poor soul, and she ended up in the struggle to take the gun. And little does SHE know that her brother moved her hand and shot the gun himself. So as our hero unwittingly leads the murderers through the desert and Indian territory, he soon learns part of the truth and sets out to find out the rest by force.

OK, the story had a lot of potential. We had some drama with a little bit of conspiracy, which could build up a lot of personal development and tension. However, this is a 1910's movie, and there wasn't a lot of that going on in the 10's. Like with many silent movies, character development seemed to mean very little when compared to the miracle of moving pictures, so in the end they obviously threw together a story with the western vibe that people love so much, hoping that the movie would sell based on that. The best thing about the movie may be the performance of William S. Hart, who in my opinion was the only one on screen who stood out as an actor, whereas everyone else just felt like they were filling the movie's cast because they needed to get some people. Otherwise, it's a William S. Hart movie.

I'm easily going to check out more 1910's silent movies, but thanks to movies like Wagon Tracks, I'm probably not gonna review them if they're going to end up like this. This is a very simple-minded, easy to produce, stock western which only deserves not to be forgotten by history because it has one of the earliest western movie stars. Since quite a few of his movies (specifically ones directed by Lambert Hillyer) are hard to find, that might be more reason to keep this movie somewhere, but it's certainly not the fine filmmaking that audiences in that same year experienced with Abel Gance's J'Accuse.

= 44

Lambert Hillyer's Score

The Wagon Tracks

The Hat Box Mystery: 45

Needs one more film for average score. Since I consider these two movies bad, he'll debut on my Bad Directors list, and may or may not stay there with more movies.