» » The Stolen Ranch (1926)

Short summary

Two friends return to America after serving in the Great War. Suffering from shell shock, Frank is helpless and Breezy has become his de facto caregiver. Strangers now run Frank's home, the Wilcox Ranch. Breezy goes to investigate.

Janet Gaynor does not appear in the surviving print.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Oparae
    THE STOLEN RANCH is a solid little Western with the added twist of two war buddies (one with shell shock) working undercover to get back the ranch that the foreman has taken for his own (possibly believing the heir was killed in the war). It's just enough of a new spin to make this modern-day Western story work nicely.

    Fred Humes is the likable star and pal to the shell-shocked heir (Ralph McCullough). He plays Breezy and the name is apt. He's especially good in the kitchen scenes with Mary Jane (Louise Lorraine), and there are a few very funny bits concerning potatoes. William Bailey plays the scheming usurper, and Nita Cavalier plays the blonde.

    Janet Gaynor is often listed as an extra, but there were no scenes in the version I saw where she could possibly be, so it's either a mistake or her scenes were deleted.
  • comment
    • Author: Kirimath
    "The Stolen Ranch" takes place just after WWl but on a ranch where everyone rides horses. Two soldiers back from the war try to get a job on a nearby ranch where a local baddie lives. He is trying to own another nearby ranch by dishonest means but our hero is on the job. There is, of course, a love interest and on the whole this is ground that's been covered many times. Can't really recommend it - sometimes old silent movies are just old movies with no real reason to be seen. Shown at Capitolfets, Rome NY 8/18.
  • comment
    • Author: Nnulam
    Breezy and Frank return from the Great War to find out what happened to Frank's uncle's ranch. Frank is sure that his uncle wanted him to have it, but he is still suffering from shell shock, so Breezy goes in alone to investigate.

    To the modern audience the western is a purely nostalgic genre, but in 1926 there were plenty of modern westerns that combined the tropes of the old and new West -- horses and oil wells, World War One veterans and breaking broncs -- the B western was a lively form in the late silent era, a place for skilled talent who needed a job and for new talent looking for a chance.

    The latter category includes one of the screenwriters, George H. Plympton, now best remembered for writing the "Flash Gordon" serials, and for the budding director of this one, William Wyler, who would become one of the most accomplished directors of the sound era. He got the job because he was a relative of the studio owner, "Uncle" Carl Laemmle, but he directed for more than forty-five years because he did great work in every genre.

    It kept him from being bored and he never bored the audience. Here, though, he's busy proving his competence and this movie is a nice hodge-podge of standard western bits. In fact, the survival of this movie is almost certainly due to Wyler being the director -- none of the people in front of the camera got far out of the B movies. Nor should they have. Their performances are amiable but broad. Still, it's a good whack at combining comedy, romance with issues of mental illness (shell shock), short (under an hour) and if you want to introduce someone to silent B westerns without the distraction of the stars of the era -- I'm very fond of Hoot Gibson, myself -- this is a good one.
  • comment
    • Author: Seevinev
    William Wyler never had anything much to say about the twenty-one 2-reel and eight 5-reel silent westerns upon which he cut his directorial teeth for Uncle Carl Laemmle in 1925, 1926 and 1927. Wyler always described them as rush jobs. "We shot from Monday through Friday in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills, then received a new script on the Saturday. I didn't direct all of them. Bill Crinley directed quite a few, but he died just after Christmas in '26. Ray Taylor and Ed Kull directed some too. As for the actors, Edmund Cobb was probably in more of them than anybody, but he wasn't always the number-one star. Fred Humes was in quite a few, while Louise Lorraine was a big star in serials like The Great Circus Mystery." In other interviews Wyler often implied that these films were shot entirely on location, but it's obvious from viewing the excellent DVD print that a great deal of The Stolen Ranch was made on Universal's sound stages.

    In view of Wyler's negativity, I was amazed at just how well-made The Stolen Ranch actually is. It's no Shane or Duel in the Sun for sure, but it is a highly professional offering, and most skillfully put together. Although the basic plot is a familiar one, the sub-plot featuring Ralph McCullough's superb performance as a shell-shocked veteran is not. This alone should put The Stolen Ranch on every must-see list.
  • Credited cast:
    Fred Humes Fred Humes - 'Breezy' Hart
    Louise Lorraine Louise Lorraine - Mary Jane
    William Bailey William Bailey - Sam Hardy (as William Norton Bailey)
    Ralph McCullough Ralph McCullough - Frank Wilcox
    Nita Cavalier Nita Cavalier - June Marston
    Edward Cecil Edward Cecil - Lawyer James Morton
    Howard Truesdale Howard Truesdale - Tom Marston (as Howard Truesdell)
    Slim Whitaker Slim Whitaker - Henchman Hank
    Jack Kirk Jack Kirk - Ranch Hand Slim
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Janet Gaynor Janet Gaynor - Extra
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