Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eye Candy of the Day: Nevada

Thelma Todd, Gary Cooper and Ernie Adams in Nevada (1927). The film also co-stars William Powell who plays a villainous ranch foreman who sells out his boss to cattle rustlers.

Young Gary Cooper in one of his first lead roles plays, Jim Lacey, A.K.A. Nevada, a gunfighter who goes straight and takes on an army of cattle rustlers. This is slight fare but it is well made and entertaining from start to finish. The pace is quick with few inter-titles, and is easy to follow. Cooper looks gorgeous and is quite effective especially in a few dramatic moments later in the movie. Thelma Todd plays an English woman who starts out as the typical damsel in distress but surprises as she dons gauchos and a cowboy hat and rides out to help save her brother's ranch. In one memorable scene, Nevada ties her to a tree to prevent her from joining the battle. Shortly after that she decides he's the love of her life and picks him over his rival, William Powell. Powell's part is small but memorable. In a few scenes he exhibits a mix of dastardly and charming that is hard to forget. He has that Powell panache at the end when he's arrested and he reaches for a cigar instead of his gun. There is a touch of the cool style that would be his meal ticket in decades to come.


kda0121 said...

I've never had the opportunity to see Nevada, but is on my list of "to see someday". I have seen him in two other silents. His short scene in Wings and in The Winning of Barbara Worth. Even at that young age and green stage, you can tell he had "it". Much more so than his one-time love, Clara Bow. Coop was one of the most photogenic of the stars. The camera virtually drooled over him. He had a screen presence that was uncanny.

I've read several bios on Cooper and in each there are passages where fellow actors and directors would do a scene with them and when it was finished, they would shake their heads at how awful Cooper was. Then, when they looked at the rushes, their mouths dropped in astonishment at how wonderful he played the scene. Coop was made for the camera.

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

Couldn't agree with the previous post more. I think that screen presence which served him so well limited him in some of his later films because he hadn't had to learn to act all the characters that he portrayed.

Don't get me wrong -- I think he had range -- but whatever he had that carried him through at least all the way through Return to Paradise was seriously wavering by Friendly Persuasion and Love in the Afternoon. I've not had the guts to watch anything Coop made after that. As much as I adore many things about Love in the Afternoon, his performance isn't convincing.... until he blows me away at the end. Maybe the camera's too busy loving Audrey - I don't know.

Jennythenipper said...

Oh Beaky I think you are really missing out by not watching some of his later films. I think all of the ones I've seen were excellent. The Wreck of the Mary Deare is really good. He was quite ill when he made it but it adds to his performance. Also he wears a chunky sweater through half the film. He looks divine in a chunky sweater.

The Hanging Tree is pretty much unavailable but lots of folks say it is great and it is often at the top of lists of movies that deserve a full DVD treatment. They Came to Cordura is a really excellent drama. Cooper is fantastic in it. It's kind of painful to watch though, given everything he goes through. Man of the West is another Anthony Mann western and as such it's dark and violent, but again Coop is excellent. He has great chemistry (as always) with Julie London.

Oh and KDA if you send me an email with your snail mail, I will mail Nevada to you to borrow.

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

I'll trust you -- you didn't put Ten North Frederick out there, even with the chunky sweater.

Braving that would take too much. Although - I have seen some youtube clips which were alright.

And Nipper, if you've not seen The Winning of Barbara Worth -- it's a must. Not for just for Coop. It's a good movie.

kda0121 said...

Nancy, I thought Coop's performance in Friendly Persuasion was excellent. He played the role of pacifist Quaker father who had his minor vices to perfection. I actually thought it was worthy of oscar consideration. And Jen, you are right about The Hanging tree. I watched it again recently and another excellent performance. The thing that bothered me about Coop was that he seemed to age so badly. He seemed to look tired and haggard in his later movies , as compared to roles twenty years previous. Then I looked in a mirror and realized I hadn't held up so well either!

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

Karl - I'll have to give Persuasion another viewing to remember what it was that bothered me. Because I did really like parts of it, and the overall story as well. Seems like the interaction with the daughter and the townsfolk was particularly good.
However, I can remember going away with the feeling of having been kind of jerked out of the story a few times, which had just never happened with anything other than Love in the Afternoon.
Maybe it was just that he was having to play that "precocious little boy" that served him well for a very long time, but was, well, a bit unattractive in a more mature man. Playful, good. Precocious, notsomuch for me.

Certainly never happened in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell, but that role didn't have room for that error.

kda0121 said...

Jen, Thanks for your offer to loan Nevada, but after I read your blog I found it for sale on I've gotten quite a few movies from there.

Jan said...

ACK! I adored Coop in Friendly Persuasion. When I was in about sixth grade my brother's girl friend talked him into taking me along on a date because she thought I'd enjoy the movie (it was a re-release and she'd seen it before) and I have loved it and loved him in the role.