The Iron Horse (1924)

Again I chose to watch this silent film for the first time with the DVD commentary on, which decision meant watching the shorter “international” cut of the film (I’ve never entirely understood that practice, common in the silent era, where an alternate negative for export prints would be made from alternate angles and takes; as if only the home market deserved the “real” film) rather than the slightly longer American release. At that industry meeting where John Ford famously introduced himself by saying “I make Westerns”, this is what he meant; one of the first attempts to elevate the genre to the level where it could be considered respectable drama, The Iron Horse still holds up quite well as a Western milestone, if perhaps a slightly self-conscious one; I got the impression it seemed to know it was a deliberate attempt to be more than just your average oater and wanted to make sure you were constantly aware of it too.

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