Three Bad Men
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Three Bad Men

Director: John Ford, George O'Brien, Olive Borden, Lou Tellegen

Cast: John Ford, George O'Brien, Olive Borden, Lou Tellegen

     
 
Long thought lost, the silent Three Bad Men is an vital ingredient in the cinematic canon of director John Ford. Often described as a film version of Peter B. Kyne's Three Godfathers (which Ford would direct in 1948), Three Bad Men is actually based on Over the Border, a novel by Herman Whitaker. The plot, which spans several years, is set

Overview

Long thought lost, the silent Three Bad Men is an vital ingredient in the cinematic canon of director John Ford. Often described as a film version of Peter B. Kyne's Three Godfathers (which Ford would direct in 1948), Three Bad Men is actually based on Over the Border, a novel by Herman Whitaker. The plot, which spans several years, is set in motion when three bandits appoint themselves protectors of the heroine, whose settler father is killed early in the proceedings. A subplot involves bandit Tom Santschi's efforts to wreak vengeance on the man who seduced and abandoned his sister. The film was originally supposed to star George O'Brien, Tom Mix and Buck Jones as the title characters, but since the plot required the Three Bad Men to be killed off long before the fadeout, and since all three proposed stars had large and loyal kiddie followings, the roles were recast, with character actors Santschi, Frank Campeau and J. Farrell McDonald. O'Brien was retained, albeit relegated to a less colorful heroic role. Three Bad Men should be seen in its original release form; most commercial prints are chopped up and woefully washed out.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
One of John Ford's greatest silent epics, Three Bad Men chronicles the rush for land and gold in the Dakotas in the 1870s. Throughout his career, Ford displayed a preference for setting his dramas against historical backdrops, and Three Bad Men yet again shows his unmatchable skill in balancing an intimate story with a grand tale. Ford also uses these films to put his own spin on history. In this case it is a vision of the West in which the motivation of the pioneers is fully noble, and misdeeds are usually committed by isolated individuals. And while some of the greed is shown, Ford repeatedly stresses that the true "gold" of the rush was in the richness of the land. A continuing theme throughout Three Bad Men is redemption. At first, Bull, Mike, and Spank are shown as unsympathetic villains, wanted for various crimes, and at one point Bull comes close to cold-bloodedly killing Lee. But through selflessly dedicating themselves to Lee's welfare they find a nobler purpose, and ultimately sacrifice their lives to save her's and Dan's. As with any Ford film, there are also plenty of exciting action sequences. In this case they include the attack on the Carltons' wagon, the burning of the church, and the climactic battle with Hunter and his men. The land rush sequence is particularly impressive, filled with horses and wagons racing across the plains, as families desperately run after their dreams. In the lead roles, George O'Brien and Olive Borden look more like movie stars than Western pioneers, but still give honest performances. Bull Stanley is the film's most complex character, even if the transition from outlaw to protector is not entirely smooth, and Tom Santschi plays Bull with a depth of character that exceeds the others in the film. If Three Bad Men falls just short of Ford's later masterpieces, it is still an important, maturing step in his vital body of work.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/23/2016
UPC:
0738329206222
Original Release:
1926
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kl Studio Classics
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:32:00
Sales rank:
1,788

Special Features

Audio Commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride, the author of Searching For John Ford; Trailers

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George O'Brien Dan O'Malley
Olive Borden Lee Carlton
Lou Tellegen Layne Hunter
John Farrell MacDonald Mike Costigan
Tom Santschi Bull Stanley
Frank Campeau Spade Allen
Jay Hunt Prospector
Phyllis Haver Prairie Beauty
Priscilla Bonner Millie Stanley
Alec B. Francis Rev. Calvin Benson
Grace Gordon Millie's Friend
Otis Harlan Zack Leslie
Georgie Harris Joe Minsk
George S. Irving Gen. Neville
Walter Perry Pat Monohan

Technical Credits
John Ford Director,Producer,Screenwriter
George Schneiderman Cinematographer
John Stone Screenwriter

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