A somewhat primitive early talkie version of Rex Beach's lusty 1909 novel of Alaska salmon fishers, RKO's The Silver Horde was one of Joel McCrea's earliest breaks. Although third-billed to the more established Evelyn Brent and character star Louis Wolheim, McCrea played the leading role of Boyd Emerson, an adventurer finding himself stranded in the Alaskan wilderness along with sidekick Fraser (Raymond Hatton). Saloon hostess turned copper mine proprietress Cherry Malotte (Brent) falls in love with the newcomer and persuades business associate Tom Hilliard (William Davidson) to bankroll a salmon fishing operation for Emerson and the brutish-looking but lovable Balt (Wolheim). Emerson, however, is in love with Seattle debutante Mildred Wayland (Jean Arthur), whose snobbish father (Purnell Pratt) schemes with salmon industry magnate Frederick Marsh (Gavin Gordon) to sabotage the new endeavor. The rival fishing fleets meet in hand-to-hand battle for superiority with the Emerson-Balt crew emerging the winners. In retaliation, Marsh attempts to slander Cherry Malotte, but is killed by an out-of-control Balt. A major star of the late silent era, Evelyn Brent is struggling to convey her trademark toughness before the microphone, but McCrea makes a stalwart hero and Louis Wolheim is watchable doing almost anything. Jean Arthur is merely window dressing this early in her career, but Blanche Sweet, an icon of the early silent era, is completely wasted in a bit part as the villain's former girlfriend. It became her final screen appearance. The Silver Horde had been filmed once before, by Goldwyn in 1916 starring Myrtle Steadman as Cherry and Curtis Cooksey as Emerson.
by Hans J. Wollstein synopsis