Road Rash Reviews


Cert 12 | 107 mins | 1917-18

4 Star

A Cowboy From the Silver Screen.

From the screen legend that was John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath, Two Rode Together, Rio Grande, My Darling Clementine, The Quiet Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) comes two films from his early career, thanks to the NBC Universal Studio Post for recovering these two silent screen horse operas. Apart from them being in black and white and silent, you will not believe that these films are over a hundred years old. Marvellous job. A true piece of cinematic history brought back to life. This Blu-ray is Eureka’s release #245 – #246, thank you very much.

The main star of these two films is Harry Carey (Red River, Judith of Bethulia, The Man from Texas, Duel in the Sun), one of the superstars of silent screen horse operas. He plays the drunk gun-for-hire Cheyenne Harry, a role which he reprises more than twenty times (1917-1919), so he definitely got the girl more than twice.

Many a film has been made about the struggle between the Cattleman and the Homesteader, but this one is most probably one of the first. With a score by Michael Gatt which  keeps the film bobbing along and adds those moments of melodrama.

Sweet Water Sims (George Berrell, The Trail Rider, The Man from Montana) has done his travelling, and now he is the head off the homesteaders, along with his son Ted (Ted Brooks, Sundown Slim) and his daughter Joan (Molly Malone, Blaze Away, The Knockout Kid). His rival is cattleman ‘Thunder’ Flint, and he hates the settlers and their buildings and barbed wire stopping him running his cattle. Flint has a cunning plan, he is going to fence off Sims water spring and sit in wait for the next fool to try to get water, and that fool is Ted who comes to a swift end due to Flint’s Winchester rifle. Not satisfied with that result he also hires gunslingers Cheyenne Harry and Placer Fremont (Vester Pegg, The Struggle, Bare Fists) to help him run the settler off the land permanently. Will Cheyenne be as ruthless as he has in the past or will he fall for the damsel in distress? (You know the format).

Hell Bent sees Cheyenne return, but he is the only character we recognize as he drunkenly swaggers across the room. To be honest the horse steals the show at the start (didn’t get their name) as he flees a town where he left people dead after accusations of cheating in a card game. He crosses the river to find himself in the town of Rawhide. The Hotel/bar is full and raucous and the only bed available for doubling up is in Cimmaron Bill’s  (Duke R. Lee, Adventures of Texas Jack, The Scarlet Brand) room so Harry rides his horse straight up and into the room where they settle the sleeping arrangements between themselves (guns are waved). Elsewhere in the town, Bess (Neva Gerber, The Range Riders, California in ’49) and her good for nothing brother Jack Thurston (Vester Pegg) are struggling for money to help their poorly mother and feed themselves. Jack at the moment works for Wells Fargo company and Beau Ross (Joe Harris, Sure Fire, Humdrum Brown) and his band of robbers are always after their gold shipments (some might say that is taking the easy way out).

To make ends meet Bess (Mary) takes a job at the hotel where she catches Cheyenne’s eye and also the other outlaw Ross (you can see where this is going).

It is great and a privilege to see films this old and looking so good, a must for the cowboy/girl of the family and anyone who is into film history and a legend of a director.





STRAIGHT SHOOTING & HELL BENT: TWO FILMS BY JOHN FORD (Masters of Cinema) is available on Blu-ray



Limited Edition O-Card slipcase and reversible sleeve artwork
Both features presented in 1080p on Blu-ray from 4K restorations undertaken by Universal Pictures, available for the first time ever on home video in the UK 
Straight Shooting– Score by Michael Gatt 
Hell Bent– Score by Zachary Marsh 
Straight Shooting– Audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride, author ofSearching for John Ford: A Life
Hell Bent– Audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride 
Brand new interview with film critic and author Kim Newman 
Bull Scores a Touchdown– Video essay by Tag Gallagher 
A Horse or a Mary?– Video essay by Tag Gallagher 
Archival audio interview from 1970 with John Ford by Joseph McBride 
A short fragment of the lost filmHitchin’ Posts(dir. John Ford, 1920) preserved by the Library of Congress 
PLUS:A collector’s booklet featuring writing by Richard Combs, Phil Hoad, and Tag Gallagher


DirectorJohn Ford
StarringHarry Carey, Duke R. Lee, Molly Malone
Available to buy on : Own STRAIGHT SHOOTING & HELL BENT: TWO FILMS BY JOHN FORD (Masters of Cinema) Blu-ray on Blu-Ray
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