Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein
By 1931, and after countless Universal silent Westerns, veteran cowboy star Hoot Gibson had become a little long in the tooth to play a young, innocent mama's boy. But unfortunately, that is just what he played in Hard Hombre, the third of eleven very low-budget Gibson Westerns produced by M.H. Hoffman's Allied Pictures. Sometimes coy but mostly sullen, Gibson is frequently more irritating than heroic and one can only concur with leading lady Lina Basquette's reason for sending her new ranch hand out on a potentially dangerous errand: "Ah, he annoyed me!" Hoot plays William Penn "Peaceful" Patton, a young man who once promised his mother (Jessie Arnold) never to fight. Hired by Isabel Martinez (Basquette), a pretty Mexican widow, "Peaceful" is constantly mistaken for the notorious gunman, the "Hard Hombre." Enjoying his newfound notoriety, the ersatz hombre scares a group warring ranchers into settling a dispute over water rights and is so forceful that his employer falls for him. When the real "Hard Hombre" (Frank Winkleman) slugs "Peaceful's" mother, Patton turns into a fighting machine, decking the notorious outlaw with a swift uppercut. Gibson, who always enjoyed doing comedy more than straight Western melodrama, performs well in a couple of mildly humorous episodes -- bossing Basquette around and refusing to marry Tiny Sandford's cheap-looking "sister" (played by, of all people, Florence Lawrence) -- but generally his timing is defeated by Otto Brower's ponderous direction. For the record: Lawrence, the erstwhile "Biograph Girl" and arguably the first widely publicized movie star, has two lines in the film: "That's him!" and "You big brute!" The former silent icon delivers them with conviction.
career, bad-guy, conflict, cowboy, foreman, good-guy, lookalike, mild-mannered, mistaken-identity, mother, property, ranch