Monday, May 11, 2015

The Great Divide (1929)

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“Someday you’ll be sorry you broke my heart.”

            This “western” takes place at the boarder of the United States and Mexico known as The Great Divide. Steven Ghent (Ian Keith) is returning home after being away for a long time. He has just sold his mine that he has had for fifteen years. He has been working alone and hard since his partner Frank Ruth died years before. In that time Steven has been taking care of Frank’s daughter. Waiting for him at his house is a young Mexican girl named Manuella (Myrna Loy). She is in love with Steven but he only sees her as a child not as someone he could love.
Image result for the great divide 1929
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            Ruth (Dorothy MacKaill), Frank’s daughter, is on her way out west to see Steven about the mine along with her lawyer and a bunch of mooching friends. Ruth is not happy about having to spend time in a small mid western town. She is a lively girl who constantly wants to have a good time and be entertained. Once in town Ruth and her friends walk around and join in the fiesta. Steven and two of his friends ride wildly into town. He almost runs Ruth over with his horse. She is furious with him. She gives him a piece of her mind and calls him a Mexican bandit. Steven plays along with the Mexican bandit line and pretends he is one.
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            Steven rides his horse right into a bar. Manuella was in the bar and runs up to Steven. He pushes her away which causes her to become infuriated with him. Ruth saw Steven ride his horse into the bar and is now intrigued by him. He sings a song with his friends and when he is done Ruth wants him to come over. A few moments later they are dancing with each other and Manuella, still in the bar, sees them together and fumes in jealousy. She has the musicians in the bar play flamenco so she can dance to it and gain Steven’s attention. Manuella’s plan works for a bit until Ruth notices him staring at the dancing girl and gets his attention right back.
            Manuella’s jealousy soon gets the better of her and she openly threatens to kill Ruth if she does not leave Steven alone. In his defense of Ruth Steven drops his Mexican bandit act to yell at Manuella to leave them both alone. Ruth is upset with Steven and his deception she calls him cheap and immediate goes crawling into the arms of her friend Edgar.  
            When Steven finds out that Ruth is Frank’s daughter he gets mad at what she has become and whisks her away into the desert that night. He does this to show here that there is more to life than partying and needing constant attention. Her lawyer still does not know who Steven really is. Still thinking Steven is a real Mexican bandit he announces that there will be a ten thousand dollar reward for whoever finds Ruth and captures the bandit who took her.
            Steven and Ruth return to his house a few days later. They are now both in love with each other which should not be a shock to anyone reading this. Manuella shows up out of the blue and looking for a throw down with Ruth.
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            Of course everything works out in the end and Steven and Ruth are happily together.

             The Great Divide has all the hallmarks of an early sound film. The acting is not that great as the actors were still getting used to acting out the lines they were speaking. The camera was stationary and the cuts were very few. I would not have come near The Great Divide if Myrna Loy had not been in it. The story was not too bad but it is one that has continued to be made over and over since the dawn of the movies. I think the only reason it is available at all through Warner Archive is because Loy is in it. At the time she made this film Loy was twenty-four and still playing exotic characters even though she was a redheaded Irish, Welsh, and Scottish girl from Montana. It pained me to hear Loy try to fake a Spanish accent. Her early speaking roles just pain me in general but as a massive obsessive Myrna Loy fan I have to see whatever films of hers I can find. Unless you are a Myrna Loy fan like me than there is no reason to watch The Great Divide. If you are interested in watching it the film is available to view in full on YouTube. 
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