Filmed in black and white way back in 1931, the picture quality is never going to be great. You only have to look at "The Big Trail" and "Fighting Caravans to see that. This film isn't a bad western, but it isn't all that good either. Despite reading this film referred to as a 'B' western on more than one occasion, it is nothing of the sort. This is most definitely an 'A' production, and one of the few at that time that could not be considered an epic. The film is now of course best remembered for being Clark Gable's first sound film. His deep manly voice, in contrast to the other actors, was well suited to sound. When the fan letters came flooding in the studio bosses took notice, and Gable was on the road to becoming "The King of Hollywood". Gable only has a support role, and unusually gets to play the villain of the piece. Such was his screen presence that he didn't need much of a springboard to jump start his career.
The film concerns two veteran cowboys who find a baby out in the desert. The two fall out over the child, beginning a lifelong feud. The child grows up to be William Boyd, in one of the few films he made before playing 'Hopalong Cassidy" in that long running popular series. Boyd sets out to reunite the two old pards, but has a glowering Gable to contend with. Gable wants the same girl as Boyd, which leads to inevitable confrontation. Apart from Gable the acting is very stilted, which was common in early sound films. Actors like William Farnum and J Farrell MacDonald were silent performers first and foremost, and still employed the visual histrionics that entailed. The film ends in awfully contrived melodrama, typical of the period. To modern viewers it can all seem very corny. The storyline is pedestrian at best and the direction by Howard Higgin lacks any real imagination. The only reason this has not been totally forgotten is no doubt down to a certain Clark Gable. Interestingly the DVD cover shows Gable looking more like Rhett Butler than the unshaven young cowboy he played. The film is really only for Gable completists. The one thing that did impress me was the size of the mining wagons on display. Pulled by about 12 mules they were humungus. Not enough to give it more than 3.4 stars rounded down to 3. The film is also available as part of the excellent "Saddles, Saloons and Six-Shooters" box set.