Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Return of Draw Egan - 1916

Country: United States
Language: English
Director: William S. Hart
Writers: C. Gardner Sullivan (screenplay), C. Gardner Sullivan (story)
Stars: William S. Hart, Margery Wilson and Robert McKim
Release Date: 15 October 1916 (USA)
Production Co: Kay-Bee Pictures, New York Motion Picture
Runtime: USA: 50 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Action | Adventure | Romance | Western
Outlaw leader "Draw" Egan, believed dead, turns up in the town of Yellow Dog. The townsfolk believe him to be William Blake, a strong and law-abiding man. They appoint him sheriff to rid the town of the hoodlums who have nearly taken over. He does so with dispatch, becoming a genuinely lawful and respected member of the town's society. But then Arizona Joe, one of Egan's old gang, shows up in Yellow Dog, threatening to expose Egan if he doesn't help his old comrade take over the town......
Outlaw becomes sheriff in the feature THE RETURN OF DRAW EGAN (1916), suggesting the two are not so distinct after all. As I outline in my biography of Thomas Ince, he permitted William S. Hart to develop the western in his own manner, diverging from the formulas Ince felt had been exhausted.
In New Mexico, a $1000 reward is offered for Egan, and when he and his gang is trapped in a cabin, Egan lets them out one by one through a trap door, and a tunnel, out to waiting horses. Only Arizona Joe (Robert McKim), whose bravado conceals a yellow streak, allows himself to be captured. Months later, Egan is in Broken Hope, a town where no one asks about a man's past. He is spotted by Mat Buckton, sent to hire a sheriff to clean up Yellow Dog. Known there as William Blake, Egan is about to forget his vow when he meets Buckton's daughter, Myrtle (Marguery Wilson), the kind of girl he had only heard about but never met.
Egan wins reluctant admiration and healthy fear when he announces new ways in town and the closing of the saloon on Sunday. He has no interest in the dancer, Poppy (Louise Glaum). Still, Egan is not about to go to church until he sees Myrtle going. Meanwhile, Joe escapes jail, creating viewer uncertainty over how the cover will survive that has allowed Egan's reformation. With Myrtle, Egan realizes he is "One of the many men to discover he is in love and unworthy." Poppy is frustrated since the law prevents her admirers from shooting each other for her amusement, and she teams up with Joe. He threatens to tell Myrtle of Egan's past, inciting the saloon men to lawlessness, placing them against the reformers, ordering the latter to leave town. The camera tracks dramatically before Egan as he exits the sheriff=s office toward the mob. Joe exposes Egan's past, and he announces his resignation before then he will face off with Joe. This time, Egan advances into the camera itself. It is precisely the code of "honor among thieves" that Egan knew, and Joe lacked, that separate the two, and make one a possible lawman and doom the other.
The lawbreakers eliminated, Egan surrenders to the townspeople. Instead, they decide they want to retain Egan as sheriff. Only Myrtle's pleading convinces him to stay then nothing can make him leave.
Hollywood (1980) (TV Mini-Series); Hollywood: Out West (1980) (TV Episode)
Clip with Hart 

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