The Silver Horde (1930)

  • Year: 1930
  • Released: 25 Oct 1930
  • Country: United States
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Passed
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Runtime: 75 min
  • Writer: Rex Beach, Wallace Smith
  • Director: George Archainbaud
  • Cast: Evelyn Brent, Louis Wolheim, Jean Arthur
  • Keywords: fisherman, alaska, dancehall girl, pre-code, salmon, yukon, canada,

The Silver Horde Storyline

Boyd Emerson has spent two unsuccessful years in Alaska trying to make his fortune in the gold trade, mostly in an effort to impress his socialite girlfriend Mildred Wayland’s father, Wayne Wayland, although Mildred does not care if Boyd is wealthy or not in wanting to marry him regardless. Boyd has literally and figuratively hit the end of the Alaska trail when he meets Cherry Malotte, who convinces him to join her and her associate George Balt in another business, silver, more specifically the burgeoning salmon fishery and cannery. Cherry is up front to him that it is a dangerous business in that Fred Marsh has set up a syndicate to control the salmon fishery in Alaska, he going to the extreme of killing to achieve his goal. As Boyd uses Cherry’s connections to try and secure financing to build a cannery while Balt’s men operate the fishing side of the business, several issues complicate matters. First, Marsh is Wayne Wayland’s preference as a husband for Mildred. Second, Cherry herself has fallen in love with Boyd, something she doesn’t want to let him know. And third, Cherry has not informed Boyd why she is so well off and has all her business connections, which was through her former work as a prostitute.—Huggo

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The Silver Horde Movie Reviews

Early Talkie Showcases Alaskan Action

Fighting against great local opposition by going after THE SILVER HORDE – the magnificent schools of salmon which swarm past Alaskan shores – a decent young man finds himself caught between a bigoted society girl & a notorious prostitute.

A deft combination of action picture & soap opera, this early talkie boasts a fine, stalwart performance from a very young Joel McCrea, who displays some of the talents & charm which would soon make him a major star. A lively Evelyn Brent matches him dramatically as a lady with too much past. Poor Jean Arthur, in a strident, unsympathetic role, shows few hints of the celebrated comedienne she would become by the end of the decade.

Rough-hewn Louis Wolheim steals every scene he’s in as a plug-ugly fisherman who’s fiercely loyal to Miss Brent – here was an actor who was always fun to watch. Silent screen star Blanche Sweet makes one of her rare sound film appearances, playing a plain speaking harlot. Comic Raymond Hatton is amusing as a trapper with city slicker notions, while handsome Gavin Gordon makes a suave, dangerous villain.

Released in 1930, the first year of all-talkie films in Hollywood, THE SILVER HORDE displays its silent antecedents with the use of the occasional title card. This is not a weakness, however, and actually helps move the story along by explaining the plot a bit more fully.

Location filming on the Alaskan coast gives the ambiance of the film a terrific boost, while the scenes of catching & canning the salmon have a fascinating early-documentary feel to them.

Odd little film contains a great speech

This film, originally made by RKO but fallen into the public domain, is probably not going to appeal to most people, and not even to most fans of precode. However, it is still interesting viewing. It was made in 1930 – that first full year of all-talking pictures, and we are beginning to see the end of some silent acting careers and the beginning of some talking ones.

The story is that of Boyd Emerson (Joel McCrea), a man who wanders into a very unfriendly Alaskan town. He practically breaks down the door of the town lady of the evening, Cherry Malotte (Evelyn Brent), and demands hospitality, which kind of spoils the idea behind hospitality in the first place. Boyd is in love with a society girl, Mildred Wayland (Jean Arthur), but needs to prove himself worthy to her dad before they can marry. He decides to make his home in this small Alaskan outpost and set up a salmon fishery to compete against that of his underhanded and better capitalized rival for Mildred’s hand, Frederick Marsh.

Everyone from “San Francisco to Sitka” apparently knows about Cherry’s profession, everyone but Boyd. Cherry uses her bodily assets at one point to insure Boyd gets the loan he needs to start his fishery, without Boyd knowing of course. When he finds out what Cherry does and that she did it at least once to help him, fireworks ensue.

Evelyn Brent was a holdover from the silents, and this is the best talking role I’ve seen her in. She delivers her hooker’s manifesto speech to anemic society girl Mildred with gusto that rivals Barbara Stanwyck in “Baby Face”. Jean Arthur is stiff as a board and unrecognizable here as the star of the screwball comedies that are to follow, and it is ironic that in spite of that stiff performance and Brent’s animated one that Arthur’s star is to rise and Brent’s is to fall very shortly.

Louis Wolheim is another holdover from the silents. They just don’t know what to do with him here and so they basically make him a mindless brute that enjoys busting heads open. He is much better served in 1931’s “Danger Lights”, and so is Jean Arthur for that matter.

Your Lox On A Bagel Will Never Look The Same Again!!!

Is there a fan of old-timey Hollywood films out there who is NOT in love with Jean Arthur? With her wholesome good looks, spunky demeanor, inimitable cracked voice and superb acting abilities, Arthur was certainly amongst the top-tier comedic actresses of the ’30s and ’40s. “The Silver Horde” is an early talkie that she appeared in five years before her breakthrough role in 1935’s “The Whole Town’s Talking.” In this one she is third billed, and her part is a subsidiary one, playing a “pasty-faced namby-pamby” society dame; the fiancée of Joel McCrea, who is trying to get a salmon cannery up and running in the wilds of Alaska. McCrea is being secretly abetted by hooker turned businesswoman Evelyn Brent, while his chances of success are constantly being endangered by a rival operation across the bay. Anyway, this is a pretty taut little picture. It moves along briskly, and features some convincing exterior shots. It also boasts at least three very fine sequences: a dukeout between McCrea and a big Swede who wants to quit his job; a face-off between Arthur and Brent over their common love interest (the viewer’s sympathies are wholly with Brent, in this case); and a fascinating look at just how salmon are caught, processed and wind up in cans. You’ll never look at your salmon salad the same way again, I promise you! Oh…one other thing. The folks at Alpha Video have done it again; yet another DVD with poor picture quality and even lousier sound. This company has a huge catalog of films available, but when will it realize that quality is just as important as quantity?