White Gold (1927)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Rural Drama  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Confined to two basic sets and six characters, White Gold may well be the most claustrophobic western ever made. This sense of stuffiness was a deliberate artistic decision by director William K. Howard, who wanted to visually convey the entrapment experienced by heroine Jetta Goudal. The title refers to wool; the setting is a sheep ranch in Arizona. Kenneth Thompson, the son of the ranch's grim and taciturn owner (George Nichols), marries a Mexican girl, played by Goudal. The father, convinced that Jetta will eventually cheat on his son, verbally lambastes the girl at every opportunity. The old man's attitude seems to be confirmed when itinerant ranch hand George Bancroft, looking for work, harmlessly flirts with Jedda. The rancher hires Bancroft on the spot, hoping that he will forced Jetta into infidelity and thus prove her unworthy of his son. One evening, Bancroft slips into the bunkhouse where Jetta sleeps. The next morning, he is found dead of a gunshot (a startlingly casual disposal of the film's ostensible leading man!) In the film's enigmatic finale, we are never told what has really happened or what will happen thereafter; director Howard wisely assumes that the audience is intelligent enough to draw its own conclusions. Long thought lost, White Gold was slated for a remake in the 1940s, but plans were abandoned when a print could not be located. Howard himself planned to remake the project, but died before his dream could come to fruition. A good print finally resurfaced in the 1970s, and copies are now available to the home video market.



ranch, daughter-in-law, father, hired-hand, killing, prejudice, husband, jealousy, sheep