Friday, 14 January 2011
Top Ten Western Actors - No 10 William S Hart
In many ways Hart's world weary cowboy anticipated the coming of stars like Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott and Henry Fonda. And although his westerns were highly romanticised the actor would never wear the star spangled costumes favoured by the likes of Tom Mix and insisted that his pictures had an authentic look. The actor was friends with real life western legends Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson and he would avidly listen to the tales the men told of the days in the Old West. Many of these stories, some no doubt exaggerated and others downright lies, would be worked into many of his motion pictures.
Hart invented many of the devices that would become western clichés - he always seemed to play the good bad man and John Wayne's breakthrough character, The Ringo Kid owed more than a little to William S. Hart. Indeed the way Wayne rode upright in the saddle is a direct copy of Hart's style. Strange then that Hart is not as well remembered as many of the other silent western stars.
(All of these films have survived and are available on DVD. Though only on Region 1. The films are in the public domain and many can be found online - below we have the movie, Tumbleweeds. The film is complete on You Tube, but split over eight parts. The Archive has embedded the first part only.)
Wild Bill Hickock 1923
The Gunfighter 1917
Hell's Hinges 1916