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The Devil Horse (1932)


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[nobr]I can now look myself in the mirror and admit it: all that freakin', hardwon book-learnin' and what do I enjoy most among the myriad choices that the world of video offers me? The Devil Horse (1932), a twelve part serial produced by poverty row's Mascot Pictures and starring Harry Carey, Frankie Darro and Noah Beery,

Sr. Hmmm, let me see, what exactly captured my imagination?[/nobr]


[nobr]Was it El Diablo, the ostensible star of the piece, who's a magnificent piece of feisty horseflesh and a lost thoroughbred racehorse who winds up the terror of several Western outlaws, nursing a particular grudge against creepy Noah Beery, Sr. (who looks and sounds exactly like his brother Wallace in this serial)?[/nobr]


[nobr]Was it Frankie Darro, whose heartbreaking turn in Wellman's Wild Boys of the Road (1933)--made a year after this story--should've guaranteed him bigger and better parts, but, alas, his height probably condemned him to a long career playing sidekicks on the fringes of show biz? Here, he plays a lad who has wandered in the Western wild for ten years, losing most of his ability to speak in complete sentences, wearing tattered rags, leaping from trees, boulders, and cliffs, and developing an uncanny knack for communicating with critters, (Think "Sagebrush Mowgli" and you'll get the idea). Naturally, El Diablo and the kid take a shine to one another, and you should hear Frankie whinny for him![/nobr]


[nobr]Was it the legendary cowpoke with the wonderfully lived-in face, Harry Carey, searching for the snake who did his brother in, and finding the Wild Boy(Frankie Darro), a purty gal with one heck of a permanent wave on her peroxide head (Greta Granstedt), and that sidewinder, Beery, along with that justifiably peeved stallion?[/nobr]


[nobr]Well, as Carey says when he discovers all and reveals the nefarious Beery as the 'brains' (of sorts) behind all the hullabaloo, "if that [boy and horse] don't take the rag off the bush." This little gem is probably one of the most action packed serials that I've ever seen---full of explosions, horses and people going over cliffs, mines blowing up, train derailments, and, oh yes, drives up and down small mountains and ravines in 1932 vintage automobiles that the Department of War should've been aware of, since these hefty, cumbersome vehicles could easily outdo the Jeep, Humvee or Armored Assault Vehicles of any era.


Great fun, really and not a waste of time, since it certainly entertained enormously! Or, as Wild Boy (Frankie) would say, "Me like. Me recommend. Maybe you like, too."[/nobr]

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If you liked The Devil Horse, you might also like another Western from the same period, called Law and Order (1932), which features Harry Carey & Walter Huston in a retelling of the gunfight at the OK corral that is drawn from a novel by W.R. Burnett. Interestingly, one of Burnett's best adapters to film, the young John Huston, cut his screenwriting teeth on this story--which gives his pop, Walter, a chance to be a tough hombre.


Carey is his usual grand weatherbeaten self--as comfortable as a well-worn saddle. Harry Carey never seemed to act---just be his characters. He seems vastly underrated to me.

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