Riders of the Purple Sage (1931)

Genres - Action, Western  |   Run Time - 58 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

The first talkie version of Zane Grey's classic yarn Riders of the Purple Sage proved a suitable vehicle for Fox Studios' resident cowboy star George O'Brien. Within an astonishingly brief running time, the film manages to pack together all the plot ingredients in the Grey original, save one: chief villain Noah Beery is no longer an amoral Mormon elder but instead a crooked judge. O'Brien is cast as Texas Ranger Jim Lassiter, who devotes his life to rescuing his sister and daughter, who've been kidnapped by Lew Waters (Beery). Taking a job at the ranch owned by Jane Withersteen (Marguerite Churchill), Jim learns from Jane that Waters is now living pseudonymously as "respectable" Judge Dyer. The famous finale, in which Jim and Jane escape a posse by sealing themselves off in a fertile valley seems a bit ludicrous when seen today, but works within the context of the film. Magnificently photographed by George Schneiderman, the 1931 Riders of the Purple Sage remains the best adaptation of this Zane Grey classic (A remake of a 1925 Tom Mix vehicle, it would itself be remade, less effectively, in 1941).



bad-guy, cowboy, good-guy, kidnapping, rescue, sister, victim, silence