Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. For more of my movie reviews, click here to follow me on Letterboxd.
Week 197: The Invaders (1912)
The more I see of his work, the more I prefer the silent westerns made by producer (and sometimes director) Thomas H. Ince than the ones by D.W. Griffith. The latter’s films lean towards sensationalism and sentimentalism whereas Ince’s work aims for a more grounded and gritty look at the frontier experience. I have certainly not seen enough to make a definitive assessment but THE INVADERS contributes to this opinion.
Made with John Ford’s brother, Francis, who both appears on screen and led the charge behind the camera, THE INVADERS is nearly a docu-drama approach to the Native tribes attacking storyline, a formula frequently used in these early Westerns. In contrast to Griffith’s FIGHTING BLOOD and THE BATTLE OF ELDERBRUSH GULCH, it is a shockingly straight forward presentation of an Indian raid that doesn’t take clear sides. There really are no villains here and even the American cavalry isn’t presented in a strong heroic light. It shows in direct terms how a situation gets out of hand, leading to tragic consequences for both sides.
Its action, presented in wide shots with few cuts, is pure and astounding. If you want to see some of the best horsemanship and gun battles ever put on screen, turn to silents like these when it all had to be done in camera (and frequently in one shot).
I look forward to watching more of Ince’s Westerns and discovering if my suspicion is right, that he may be one of the genre’s most under-appreciated creators.
Watched on YouTube