Monday, January 30, 2012

Stock Answers

Richard Dix and Lois Wilson in 1925's The Vanishing American...
Between 1923 and 1928, Paramount Pictures released almost a dozen films based on Zane Grey stories that were photographed on Arizona locations, including To the Last Man, The Call of the Canyon (1923), The Heritage of the Desert (1924), The Light of Western Stars, Code of the West, Wild Horse Mesa, The Vanishing American, (1925), The Last Frontier (1926), Drums of the Desert (1927), Under the Tonto Rim, Avalanche, The Water Hole and Sunset Pass (1928). But when talkies took the movie business by storm the studio decided to cut costs by shooting its Zane Grey westerns close to home in California.

However, Paramount continued to churn out low budget movies in the 1930s based (sometimes barely) on novels written by Grey, and by cleverly stitching in footage lifted from the silents, these also appear to have sequences photographed in Arizona. Some of the film shot on location in Payson for the lost silent version of To the Last Man has survived because cash-stricken Paramount saved a few dollars during the Great Depression by recycling scenes from it for the 1933 sound remake with Randolph Scott. A few glimpses of the silent Heritage of  the Desert (filmed north of Flagstaff at Cameron) can still be seen because Paramount plundered it as economy footage for its 1939 remake.

... and Buster Crabbe wearing Dix's duds in 1936.
Even The Vanishing American, the only northern Arizona-lensed silent Grey adaption that still exists in good condition, was mined for stock. The 1936 remake of Desert Gold had star Buster Crabbe dressed identically to Vanishing’s Richard Dix, which made a reasonable enough illusion in longshot to fool unsuspecting matinee crowds into thinking that the California production had crossed the state line into Arizona.––Joe McNeill

1 comment:

  1. It is sad top see Zane Grey's great legacy broken by really bad B Movies. One Director, Salander I believe, came somewhat close to capturing the essence of Grey. I grew up in New Zealand reading Grey as a teenager and then in 2003 I spent two full years exploring the American West as written by Grey, I pulled a modern covered wagon aka Aistream behind my Landrover to wilderness areas all over. I shot over 220 hours of footage and am slowly writing a book and editing a film, some what slowly as I now have Lou Gehrig's disease. The American West as described and experienced by Grey is a great place to this day.