The Ruse/Arizona Wooing/Out West/The Great Train Robbery [DVD]

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An Arizona Wooing
Out West
Having shot his fist five Comique Film Corporation comedies in New York, star-director Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle moved his unit to California to make Out West, and remained in the Golden State for the rest of his silent-screen career. Arbuckle plays the sheriff of a wild-and-wooly western town, where shootings, maimings and killings are an everyday occurrence. The local saloon even has a huge trap door to accommodate the falling bodies. Though no saint himself, Fatty is redeemed by the love of Salvation Army lass Alice Lake, and dedicates himself to tracking down notorious outlaw Al St. John. Cornered by St. John, our hero discovers that the villain can be subdued through the simple expedient of tickling his foot! Stealing the show is Buster Keaton in the first of his poker-faced lampoons of "strong silent" western hero William S. Hart. A generally amusing subject, Out West is marred (at least for contemporary viewers) by an extended scene in which a tremulous African American bartender is terrorized by the trigger-happy Fatty and Buster. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Square Deal Man
In this William S. Hart picture, the cowboy star plays Jack O'Diamonds, a gun-toting gambler in a border town. A minister (Milton Ross) convinces him and his partner Two Spot (Joseph J. Dowling) to quit gambling since winning money from the average man causes women and children to suffer. On their last night at cards, Jack is up against Colonel Ransome (J. Frank Burke). When Jack wins all the Colonel's money and his hacienda, the Colonel accuses him of cheating. Jack draws his gun and the lights go out. When they come back on, the Colonel is dead and a couple of Mexicans are riding off. Jack sends for Virginia, the Colonel's daughter (Mary MacIvor), with the intention of giving her the ranch. When she arrives, he immediately falls in love with her and gives up his wild life to become the ranch's foreman. Meanwhile, the Mexican who really committed the murder is plotting to convince Virginia that Jack killed her father -- then she will send Jack away and the Mexican can run the ranch's cattle over the borderline and kidnap the girl. But his plot, of course, is foiled and Jack and Virginia find happiness together. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

The Great Train Robbery
Director Edwin S. Porter made film history when he completed the 13 sequences for the 12-minute The Great Train Robbery, released in 1903 but based on an 1896 story by Scott Marble. Featuring the first parallel development of separate, simultaneous scenes, and the first close-up (of an outlaw firing off a shot right at the audience), The Great Train Robbery is among the earliest narrative films with a "Western" setting. The opening scenes show the outlaws holding up the passengers and robbing the mail car in the train, before escaping on horseback. After being knocked out by the bandits, the telegraph operator regains consciousness and heads to the dance hall to get a posse together. The posse takes off to hunt down the outlaws and the chase is on. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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