No Man's Law (1927)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture  |   Release Date - May 1, 1927 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

A wild stallion becomes the protector of a prospector and his foster daughter in this fine Western adventure produced by comedy specialist Hal Roach. Several members of the Roach "all-star" comics played straight roles this time around, including Oliver Hardy, here appearing scruffy, unshaven, and sporting an eye-patch. Mere months away from being officially teamed with fellow Roach comic Stan Laurel, Hardy plays Sharkey Nye, who -- with his equally unsavory buddy Spider O'Day (Theodore Von Eltz) -- stumbles upon a lonely mining camp lorded over by Rex, King of the Wild Horses. O'Day, "a man too bad to be a good man, but not bad enough to be a bad man," falls for the miner's pretty foster-daughter Toby (Barbara Kent) and quickly abandons all plans to take over the place. Consumed with jealousy, Sharkey challenges his former partner to a chess match for the rights to Toby. O'Day emerges the winner but is shot by Sharkey, who proceeds to ravish Toby. The girl is saved in the nick of time by Rex and the villain finally bites the dust. Recovering from his wounds, O'Day discovers that his love is reciprocated by Toby. Co-directed by Fred Jackman and writer . Richard Jones, No Man's Law endured a torturous location shoot in the blistering Moapa Valley 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The original location was to have been the more temperate Lone Pine, California, with Raymond McKee as the good-bad man Spider McKee. At the last moment, the company settled for Moapa and McKee was replaced by Theodore Von Eltz. A mustachioed actor usually associated with playing suave society wolves, Von Eltz filled his unaccustomed role rather well, but the film's real surprise was Oliver Hardy, who made an utterly convincing and downright despicable villain. Much has been made of the intemperate nature of the film's equine star, Rex. Played by a horse named Casey Jones, Rex, according to director Jackman, proved the perfect co-worker, to the point, in fact, where Jackman could wire the home office that "He acts like he was at home and was never so docile and obedient." No Man's Law is equally famous for leading lady Barbara Kent's "nude" swim (she wore a body stocking), often compared to Hedy Lamarr's famous dip in Ecstasy (1933). The script had actually called for nude scenes by both Miss Kent and veteran comic James Finlayson, the latter cast as the old prospector. Happily, Roach was persuaded to excise most of this footage prior to release, but the film still suffered heavy censorship problems in less sophisticated locations. Finlayson and a couple of tired burros supplied rare comedic touches to the otherwise rather grim proceedings; in fact, some reviewers found the film too morbid for comfort and certainly not geared to children, Roach's usual audience.




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