The Thundering Herd (1925 film)
|The Thundering Herd|
|Directed by||William K. Howard|
|Written by||Lucien Hubbard|
|Based on||The Thundering Herd|
by Zane Grey
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|70 minutes (7 reels)|
The Thundering Herd is a 1925 American silent Western film, now lost. It is directed by William K. Howard and starring Jack Holt, Lois Wilson, Noah Beery, Sr. and Raymond Hatton. Based on Zane Grey's 1925 novel of the same name and written by Lucien Hubbard, the film is about a trader who uncovers a scheme to blame the Indians for a buffalo-herd massacre. It was one of a series of critically and commercially successful Zane Grey westerns produced by Jesse Lasky and Adolph Zukor for Paramount Pictures.
Exhibitors Herald, November 8, 1924:
- Thousands of buffalo, collected in one huge herd through the assistance of the United States government, are The Thundering Herd that will play such a thrilling part in this new story of the old West written by Zane Grey. With Jack Holt, Lois Wilson, and Noah Beery, under the direction of William Howard, maker of those two big successes, The Border Legion and The Code of the West, The Thundering Herd is certain to be thunderin' good Western melodrama. The beginning of the picture introduces an episode that is historic, if for no other reason that it shows the trend of the pioneer thought in the youth of 1850. Tod Doan at the age of 24 is left alone on a Kansas farm with heritage of $200. The $200 went for a gun and a horse, and Tod Doan joined a party of Buffalo hunters. This is Jack Holt's role in this new Zane Grey picture. Holt, as Tod Doan, finds himself in a party riding into Texas under the leadership of a fine old plainsman named Hudnall. He meets Milly Fayre, played by Lois Wilson, ward of a crooked gambler named Jett who together with a group of outlaws are making buffalo hunting a pretext to cover their banditry. Until she is 18, Milly is under Fayre’s guardianship, but when she falls in love with Doan she promises...that she will marry him as soon as she is of age. For a time, Tom loses sight of her as she is taken to a freighting station to be safe from the Indians. In the meanwhile Tod hunts buffalo with the Hundall party until Hundall is murdered by Indians. Then the buffalo hunters organize and drive the Indians from Texas. Looking for Milly, a year later, Doan is told that Jett has taken her away. Jett and his partners quarrel and shoot it out. All are killed. Terrified by the tragedy, Milly drives over the prairies toward the freighting station, but she is sighted and pursued by braves with hardly a chance of escape until she notices a stamping herd of buffalo bearing down across the plain. If Milly can widen the distance between her and the Indians there is a chance that the buffalos will cut off the Indians' pursuit. That is about as original a climax to a story as Zane Grey has ever devised.
- Jack Holt as Tom Doan
- Lois Wilson as Milly Fayre
- Noah Beery, Sr. as Randall Jett
- Raymond Hatton as Jude Pilchuk
- Charles Ogle as Clark Hudnall
- Tim McCoy as Burn Hudnall
- Lillian Leighton as Mrs. Clark Hudnall
- Eulalie Jensen as Mrs. Randall Jett
- Stephen Carr as Ory Tacks
- Maxine Elliott Hicks as Sally Hudnall
- Ed Brady as Pruitt
- Pat Hartigan as Catlett
- Fred Kohler as Follansbee
- Bob Perry as Joe Dunn
- Gary Cooper (uncredited)
Lists of Shoshone and Arapaho individuals who appeared in the film (and in The Covered Wagon) are held in the U.S. National Archives.
- Jack Holt was the father of cowboy actor Tim Holt.
- Charles Ogle played the original screen Frankenstein's monster in Thomas Edison's 1910 version of Frankenstein, predating the Boris Karloff interpretation by more than two decades.
- The film was remade in a 1933 sound version, The Thundering Herd, with some of the cast (Beery and Hatton) playing the same parts but Randolph Scott playing Jack Holt's role, with Scott's hair darkened and a moustache added so as to match original footage featuring Holt that was incorporated into the later version to hold down costs.
- Noah Beery Sr. was the slightly older brother of fellow screen legend Wallace Beery and father of Noah Beery Jr. ("Rocky" in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files).
- Raymond Hatton was making a series of comedies as half of an unofficial comedy team with Noah Beery's brother Wallace Beery during this period.
- It was also from the novel on which this film is based that Marshall University took its unique nickname as the Thundering Herd.
- Tim McCoy directed the Native American actors.
- Gary Cooper appears in a small uncredited role.
- The silent black-and-white film is 70 minutes (7 reels, 7,187 feet).
- Filming locations included Yellowstone National Park, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and Calabasas, California. The Sierra Nevada shots, filmed somewhere near the state line, were for a blizzard sequence.
- The entire bison population of Yellowstone, some 2,000 individuals, was rounded up for use in the stampede scene.
Variety compared the cinematography to the art of Frederic Remington. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times also referenced Remington and wrote:
So far as the strong sequences are concerned, it is a work of art...but as a narrative this film is not particularly good...William Howard, the director, has adroitly made the most of his herds of buffalo in the exciting stampede scenes. He never gives you a chance to guess the number of animals, for just as you are going to make a quick calculation on comes a splendid close-up of the frightened bisons...In the fight between the redskins and the hunters there is a series of splendid scenes in which no opportunity is lost to make them thoroughly realistic. Horses and riders dash into the tops of wagons, while others fall as if shot. Indians riding at terrific pace clash with the white men, some crumpling and slipping from their horses. One has a glimpse of a battleaxe wielded by an Indian, who, just as he is about to strike a hunter, is himself felled to the ground...For miles and miles one cannot detect a single sign of modern days. There are trees, the snow covered plains, rocks and distant mountains. The Indians are first introduced illustrating their sign language, and when they communicate with each other at later stages prior to the conflict with the hunters, one gathers a vague idea of what they mean by their signs, as they make the most of plenty and death."
Grace Kingsley in Los Angeles Times: The Thundering Herd is one of those pictures that after it has served its excellent purpose in the way of entertainment in this day, should be folded up and put away for colleges and high schools to look at fifty years from now. Perhaps never shall we again see another buffalo herd stampeding...never shall we again see a more interesting picture as regards an Indian pow-wow...certainly never shall we have so interesting an exhibition of universal Indian sign language as that in which these real braves of several tribes communicate with each other during their councils. These things are additionally interesting because they are vital part of absorbing story of The Thundering Herd.
Anges Smith in Picture Play:
Glorifying the American Buffalo: Just as The Miracle of the Wolves was an attempt to say a good word about Louis XI, so is The Thundering Herd a screen plea for kindness to the American buffalo which, it seems, got a raw deal from the white man and the so-called white man's civilization. And really it does seem a pity that there are now more jitneys than buffalo in the great open spaces...However, sentiment about the buffalo aside, The Thundering Herd is a wonderful picture. It is thrilling and beautiful and even if the story that it tells is just another one of those stories, the picture itself remains a glorious treat...The high spot of the film is a buffalo stampede with all the buffaloes played by real buffaloes and not just by cows wearing false faces and wigs. It is a great sight and one worth leaving the radio to witness.
- ^ "The Thundering Herd". February 2, 1925 – via memory.loc.gov.
- ^ "Lost Film Files - Paramount Pictures". www.silentsaregolden.com.
- ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1921-30 by The American Film Institute, c.1971
- ^ "Silent Era : Progressive Silent Film List". www.silentera.com.
- ^ ddancis (November 4, 2021). "There's No Business Like Show Business: Hollywood Comes to the Wind River Indian Reservation, 1922–1925". The Text Message. Retrieved February 4, 2023.
- ^ Grace Kingsley, "Historical Film Next for M'Coy," Los Angeles Times, October 16, 1926.
- ^ "Exhibitor's Trade Review (Mar-May 1925) - Lantern". lantern.mediahist.org. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
- ^ a b Hall, Mordaunt (March 3, 1925). "THE SCREEN". The New York Times.
- ^ "Exhibitors Herald (Dec 1924-Mar 1925) - Lantern". lantern.mediahist.org. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
- ^ "The Moving picture world - Lantern". lantern.mediahist.org. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
- ^ Schallert, Edwin (February 25, 1925). "Pre-release--Impressions of NEW PICTURES: Wild and Western 'THE THUNDERING HERD' (Paramount)". Los Angeles Times. p. C8. ProQuest 161692364.
- ^ "Rounding Up the Buffalo". The New York Times. January 25, 1925.
- ^ "Variety (February 1925) - Lantern". lantern.mediahist.org. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
- ^ "The Moving picture world - Lantern". lantern.mediahist.org.
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