The Great Divide (1929)

72 mins | Western | 15 September 1929

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HISTORY

The 21 Feb 1929 FD and 9 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News announced the acquisition of William Vaughn Moody’s 1906 stage play, The Great Divide, by Warner Bros.-First National Pictures. The property was purchased from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which released a silent version in 1925 (see entry). According to the 28 Feb 1929 FD, Monte Katterjohn was writing the screen adaptation. Two months later, the 20 Apr 1929 Motion Picture News reported that First National staff writer Tom Geraghty had taken over the project. The job ultimately went to Fred Myton, as noted in the 23 Jun 1929 FD.
       A news item in the 20 Mar 1929 Var stated that the picture was to follow the format of a musical comedy, but without “chorus formations.” Reginald Barker, who directed the final silent version in 1925, was also given charge of the first sound version.
       The 17 Apr 1929 Var noted that Ian Keith was assigned the male lead role after the postponement of his current picture, The Lady Who Dared (1931, see entry). Actress Billie Dove had been initially cast as “Ruth Jordan,” but was later replaced with Dorothy Mackaill, as stated in the 20 Apr 1969 Motion Picture News. The picture marked Ian Keith’s screen singing debut with the Ray Perkins-Herman Ruby composition, “At The End Of The Lonesome Trail,” misprinted in contemporary sources as “At The End Of The Long, Long Trail.” Several sources noted that Keith’s wife, Ethel Clayton, had starred in the 1915 screen adaptation of ... More Less

The 21 Feb 1929 FD and 9 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News announced the acquisition of William Vaughn Moody’s 1906 stage play, The Great Divide, by Warner Bros.-First National Pictures. The property was purchased from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which released a silent version in 1925 (see entry). According to the 28 Feb 1929 FD, Monte Katterjohn was writing the screen adaptation. Two months later, the 20 Apr 1929 Motion Picture News reported that First National staff writer Tom Geraghty had taken over the project. The job ultimately went to Fred Myton, as noted in the 23 Jun 1929 FD.
       A news item in the 20 Mar 1929 Var stated that the picture was to follow the format of a musical comedy, but without “chorus formations.” Reginald Barker, who directed the final silent version in 1925, was also given charge of the first sound version.
       The 17 Apr 1929 Var noted that Ian Keith was assigned the male lead role after the postponement of his current picture, The Lady Who Dared (1931, see entry). Actress Billie Dove had been initially cast as “Ruth Jordan,” but was later replaced with Dorothy Mackaill, as stated in the 20 Apr 1969 Motion Picture News. The picture marked Ian Keith’s screen singing debut with the Ray Perkins-Herman Ruby composition, “At The End Of The Lonesome Trail,” misprinted in contemporary sources as “At The End Of The Long, Long Trail.” Several sources noted that Keith’s wife, Ethel Clayton, had starred in the 1915 screen adaptation of The Great Divide (see entry).
       Additional cast members included Doris Dawson (24 Apr 1929 Var), who was soon replaced by Jean Laverty (8 May 1929 Var) ; Jean Lorraine (22 May 1929 Var) ; Johnny Sylvester (8 Jun 1929 Hollywood Filmograph) ; and Peter Kelley, who provided bird and animal calls for the soundtrack (Sep 1929 Screenland).
       According to the 22 May 1929 Var and the 6 Jun 1929 FD, principal photography was underway at Zion Canyon National Park in Utah, despite First National’s ban on “long location trips” following its recent merger with Warner Bros. On 13 Jul 1929, Motion Picture News reported that the film was in post-production.
       The Great Divide was released 15 Sep 1929 with a Vitaphone disc soundtrack, as noted in the 5 Oct 1929 Harrison’s Report. The 12 Feb 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today announced the New York City opening at the RKO Hippodrome theater on 15 Feb 1930. Reviews were generally positive, although the Dec 1929 Screenland and the 14 Dec 1929 Motion Picture News found Dorothy Mackaill’s character unlikable. Others noted significant deviations from the original play, such as the reimagining of protagonist “Steven Ghent” as a millionaire. The 12 Apr 1930 Motion Picture News listed the film as “best western” for “Best Picture Week,” a program sponsored by Glendale, CA, theater owners.
       First National released another remake of The Great Divide in 1931, titled Woman Hungry, starring Lila Lee and Sidney Blackmer (see entry).
       Opening title card reads " The Great Divide by William Vaughan Moody." No producer or photography credits were included in the viewed print. The sound version of the film was released on 15 Sep 1929; the silent version was released on 27 Oct 1929. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Educational Screen
Nov 1929
p. 274
Educational Screen
Jun 1931
p. 179
EHW
1 Mar 1930
p. 36
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
12 Feb 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
12 Feb 1929
p. 14
Film Daily
28 Feb 1929
p. 29
Film Daily
14 Apr 1929
p. 10
Film Daily
23 Jun 1929
p. 4
Film Daily
6 Jun 1929
p. 14
Film Daily
23 Feb 1930
p. 8.
Film Spectator
4 Jan 1930
p. 21.
Harrison's Reports
5 Oct 1929
p. 161
Hollywood Fillmograph
8 Jun 1929
p. 27
Motion Picture News
9 Mar 1929
p. 750
Motion Picture News
20 Apr 1929
p. 1334
Motion Picture News
13 Jul 1929
p. 198, 227
Motion Picture News
14 Dec 1929
p. 27
Motion Picture News
12 Apr 1930
p. 39
National Board of Review Magazine
Feb 1930
p. 18
New Movie Magazine
Apr 1930
p. 85
New York Times
17 Feb 1930
p. 17.
Picture Play
Jul 1929
p. 100
Screenland
Sep 1929
p. 10
Screenland
Dec 1929
p. 86, 116
Variety
20 Mar 1929
p. 7
Variety
17 Apr 1929
p. 43
Variety
24 Apr 1929
p. 23
Variety
8 May 1929
p. 32
Variety
22 May 1929
p. 7, 13
Variety
19 Feb 1930
p. 33.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Screen version and dialogue by
Screen version and dialogue by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
MUSIC
Vitaphone Orch cond
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Great Divide by William Vaughn Moody (New York, 3 Oct 1906).
SONGS
"The End of the Lonesome Trail," words by Herman Ruby, music by Ray Perkins, sung by Ian Keith
"Si, Si Señor," words by Herman Ruby, music by Ray Perkins, sung by Myrna Loy.
PERFORMERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 September 1929
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 February 1930
Production Date:
May--Junee 1929
Copyright Claimant:
First National Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 September 1929
Copyright Number:
LP728
Physical Properties:
Black and White
Sound, also silent
Western Electric Apparatus; Vitaphone
Duration(in mins):
72
Length(in feet):
5,989 , 6,722
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Steven Ghent, a mineowner, falls in love with Ruth Jordan, an arrogant girl from the East, unaware that she is the daughter of his dead partner. Ruth is vacationing in Arizona and Mexico with a fast set of friends, including her fiancé, Edgar. Manuella, a Spanish halfbreed hopelessly in love with Ghent, causes Ruth to return to her fiancé when she insinuates that Ghent belongs to her. Ghent follows Ruth, kidnaps her, and takes her into the wilderness to endure hardship. There she discovers that she loves Ghent, and she discards Edgar in favor of ... +


Steven Ghent, a mineowner, falls in love with Ruth Jordan, an arrogant girl from the East, unaware that she is the daughter of his dead partner. Ruth is vacationing in Arizona and Mexico with a fast set of friends, including her fiancé, Edgar. Manuella, a Spanish halfbreed hopelessly in love with Ghent, causes Ruth to return to her fiancé when she insinuates that Ghent belongs to her. Ghent follows Ruth, kidnaps her, and takes her into the wilderness to endure hardship. There she discovers that she loves Ghent, and she discards Edgar in favor of him. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
with songs


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.