Straight Shooting (1917)

Film Review

STRAIGHT SHOOTING

Release Date: 27 August, 1917

Director: John Ford

Starring: Harry Carey, Molly Malone, Hoot Gibson

Special Notes: Great American Films, 1911-1920

This film has been selected to our list of Great American Films, 1911-1920, which focuses on obscure and under-appreciated American film masterpieces.

Synopsis

Cheyenne Harry, gunman and outlaw, is hired by Flint, leader of a group of ranchers, to drive Sweet Water Sims from his farm. When Harry goes to the home of Sims, he finds Sims and Joan, his daughter, mourning Ted, Sims's son, who has been shot in the back by Fremont. Harry, outraged by this act and touched by the grief of Sims and Joan, switches sides. He kills Fremont in a gunfight. The farmers are attacked by the ranchers. Harry brings his old friend Black-Eye Pete and his outlaws to save them. After the battle, Sims asks Cheyenne Harry to stay on, but he is conflicted because of his criminal past. Harry is eventually convinced to stay by Joan.

Discussion

This early Western by legendary director John Ford is one of only two he made starring Harry Carey that is known to still survive. Carey, like William S. Hart, frequently portrayed outlaws who undergo a turnaround and end up siding with the good guys. Straight Shooting makes use of Western conventions that had already been established by 1917, such as panoramic landscape shots, gunfights in the streets of a town, cattlemen fighting homesteaders, and the good characters trapped in a besieged cabin. The film showcases characteristic Carey mannerisms such as pulling on his horse's tail or folding his arms while deep in thought.

Further Reading

Read our article on Bucking Broadway (1917), the only other Ford/Carey film known to survive mostly intact.