Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Long thought lost, the 1917 western Straight Shootin' was rediscovered in the vaults of the Czech Film Archive. Thus, and thankfully, was safely preserved the very first feature-length effort of director John Ford. Harry Carey stars as a "good badman" type, slightly emulating William S. Hart without ever sacrificing his own distinct style. A professional gunman, Carey intervenes on behalf of the downtrodden homesteaders during a violent range war. Expanded from its intended two-reel length to five reels during production, the film allowed Ford to invest a great deal of humanity in his characters. The fact that no one is shown as wholly good or wholly evil adds to the overall veneer of realism, as do occasional on-screen "accidents" such as supporting actor Hoot Gibson's obviously unrehearsed tumble from a horse. Many of the locations utilized in Straight Shootin', notably a thin trail through a deep gorge (not a natural formation, as has often been assumed, but a man-made trail created for a never-completed railroad line), would pop up time and again in Ford's silent and talkie films. Though only 22 at the time of Straight Shootin', John Ford directed with the self-assuredness of a man twice his age; the result was a film that looked more like a slick product of the 1920s, rather than an assembly-line star vehicle of 1917.
bad-guy, cowboy, good-guy