Synopsis by Janiss Garza
Although this was Cecil B. DeMille's third directorial effort, it was the first time he attempted it on his own, without the skills of his more experienced co-director Oscar Apfel. Most of the Lasky Company productions were based on either a novel, a stage play, or in the case of The Virginian, a novel (by Owen Wister) that became a stage play. The title character is played by Dustin Farnum and Winifred Kingston is his schoolteacher ladylove, Molly Wood. The setting is Bess Creek, Wyoming. The Virginian's compadre Steve (J.W. Johnston) has gotten himself mixed up with some rustlers. Steve's hanging, in fact, is aided by his former friend. One famous scene -- known by many people who haven't even seen this or any other filmed version of the story -- occurs when the head of the rustlers, Trampas (Billy Elmer), calls the Virginian a vile name. Our hero's steely reply is "When you call me that -- smile." (This line was lampooned hilariously in, among other places, Buster Keaton's 1926 comedy, Go West.) It's a mistake for these cattle thieves to mess with the Virginian -- he vanquishes them and shoots Trampas in a showdown, thus winning Molly's hand. Incidentally, this picture shows how rudimentary DeMille's directorial skills were at the time -- it's technically one of his weakest.
cowboy, love, schoolteacher, lynching, rustler, showdown
High Historical Importance, High Production Values