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HEART OF TEXAS RYAN, THE (director: E.A. Martin; screenwriter: from a story by Gilson Willets/Gilson Willets; cast: Tom Mix (Jack ‘Single-Shot’ Parker), George Fawcett (Colonel William Ryan), Bessie Eyton (Texas, Ryan’s Daughter), Frank Campeau (‘Dice’ McAllister), William Rhino (Jose Mandero), Charles Gerrard (Senator J. Murray Allison), Goldie Colwell (Marion Smith); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William N. Selig; Grapevine Video; 1917-silent)
“It’s vintage Tom Mix.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The last film legendary silent film cowboy Tom Mix made for the Selig Polyscope Company. It’s adapted from a story by Gilson Willets. E.A. Martin (“The Old Code”/”The Saddle Girth”/”Perils of the Jungle”) helms it in the fashion of the day. It features Tom Mix as cowpoke Jack ‘Single-Shot’ Parker, who works as a cow puncher on the ranch of Colonel William Ryan (George Fawcett). Parker never saw his boss’s daughter, Texas (Bessie Eyton), who was away at an eastern college for the last two years, but pines for her after seeing her photograph. The beautiful Texas returns to the southwestern Texas ranch, and the rough-hewn action guy shows he’s sweet on the refined lass.

Parker celebrates payday with his rough cowboy friends in Cactus Bend, where he gets into a barroom fistfight with crooked marshal Dice McAllister (Frank Campeau) and licks him with his own boot. Dice is in cahoots with the Mexican cattle rustling gang run by Jose Mandero (William Rhino). At a Fourth of July celebration on the Ryan ranch, Mandero’s gang appears to intimidate Texas, but Parker gives them the boot. The next day Mandero’s gang kidnaps Texas and holds her for ransom, but Parker uses his brains (as advised by Texas) and bribes Mandero’s lieutenant to release her (he returns the favor, as Parker previously saved his life during a stampede). Parker gets jealous when Texas is courted by the visiting state senator from El Paso (Charles Gerrard), an upper-class dude who makes him feel he’s not in her same class. At this same time, Parker spots the Mandero gang rustling the Ryan cattle and tracks them down. He gets the cattle back by single-handedly capturing Mandero. But an hour later he escapes from Colonel Ryan’s custody. Parker chases after him to the Mexican border, but the gang captures him and holds him for a $2,000 ransom and threatens to shoot him if the ransom is not paid. Texas realizes she loves Parker, and gets the money there in time. Parker is freed and kisses his new girlfriend.

It’s vintage Tom Mix, but the film is poorly edited and the story veers from comedy to action sequences without rhyme or reason. It started out as a Zane Grey story, but since it never secured the rights it had to switch midstream and take off with another story. This should explain some of the film’s confusion. The picture was taken from the reissued version in 1923, and it seems as if some scenes were lost. If you can put up with that inconvenience, you will get a chance to see a rare example of the rough-and-tumble action hero Mix in the early days. In my humble opinion, it’s worth wading through the film’s muddled moments to watch Mix in action.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”