Sunday, 15 February 2015

Courage of the West (1937)

Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis

Written by: Norton S. Parker

Starring: Bob Baker

Bob Baker made his debut appearance in the "B"-movie Courage of the West as a singing cowboy in 1937. The film, directed by Joseph H. Lewis, told the story of an adopted son who grew up as a ranger and is tracking his own convict father, unbeknownst to him. Courage of the West was the first of four Westerns that Lewis made with singing cowboy Bob Baker as well as his first time as a lone director. The film is "full of original touches" and Lewis' "staging, camera work and visual motifs" are considered much more inventive than the story or the characters to some critics (1), however the film is also considered to be Bob Baker's best starring role out of all of the films he went on to work in.

The film contains two major parts: the prologue with the "youthful hero" and the main film depicts the protagonist in a much later period. Unlike Lewis' later films however, Courage of the West appears to have "no politics" and "no social commentary" it "pits the...cowboy policemen, against bad guy train robbers" which seems unable to be considered a particularly original story line. The film also lacks any real mystery with an over-perceptive lead character and unoriginal plot. This sets it up to be dismissed in the history of the great American Western. 


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