Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tide of Empire

Yet another movie that's available from the Warner Archive is Tide of Empire.

A late silent with a synchronized score and sound effects, the movie is set mostly in late 1840s California, although we get an introduction to old Spanish/Mexican California and its noble families with large ranches. One such family is the Guerreros, led by patriarch Don Jose (George Fawcett) with son Romauldo (William Collier Jr.) and daughter Josephita (Renée Adorée). Of course, the late 1840s means the Americans have gained the territory in the Mexican-American war, and they've just discovered gold up at Sutter's mill in the northern part of the territory. The discovery of gold brings lots and lots of Anglos to pan for gold and try to make their fortune.

One such Anglo is Dermod D'Arcy (Tom Keene, although he's credited as George Duryea, which was his birth name). He comes on his fast horse looking for gold, and when he finds that Don Jose is entering one of his horses in a race with another Hispanic nobleman, Dermod decides to make his horse the third. And wouldn't you know it, Dermod has the fastest horse. There's been wagering on the race, and that results in Dermod winning the Guerrero ranch. Not that Dermod really wanted it. And once he meets Josephita, he of course falls in love with her. So he wants to deed the ranch back to her family, but as he's about to do that, Don Jose dies!

Josephita and Romauldo both have good reason to be bitter. There's also the matter of all those Anglos coming into the territory looking for gold. They've been finding it, and are going to ship it back east via the shipping company run by Messrs. Wells and Fargo. But not if some people have their way. They'd just as soon hold up the shipments and take the gold for themselves. Romauldo joins one such gang....

Tide of Empire is a breezy, well-made late silent. When it comes to silents, I've always preferred the comedies and adventure movies, but Tide of Empire certainly succeeds in entertaining. Not that there's anything particularly new here; I couldn't help but think of The Trail of '98 which was about the gold rush in the Klondike and released about a year before this one. With certain scenes, I was wondering whether I had seen them before. Still, fans of silents will like Tide of Empire.

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