The hum of the moving-picture machine
is the predominating note in “The Mysterious
Rider,” Zane Grey’s latest contribution
to the literature of unrealism. All that is necessary
for a complete illusion is the insertion of three
or four news photographs at the end, showing how they
catch salmon in the Columbia River, the allegorical
floats in the Los Angeles Carnival of Roses and the
ice-covered fire ruins in the business section of
In order that the change from book
to film may be made as quickly as possible, the author
has written his story in the language of the moving-picture
subtitle. All that the continuity-writer in the
studio will have to do will be to take every third
sentence from the book and make a subtitle from it.
We might save him the trouble and do it here, together
with some suggestions for incidental decorations.
Remember, nothing will be quoted below
which is not in the exact wording of Zane Grey’s
text. We first see Columbine Belllounds, adopted
daughter of old Belllounds the rancher of Colorado.
She is riding along the trail overlooking the valley.
“TODAY GIRLISH ORDEALS AND GRIEFS
SEEMED BACK IN THE PAST: SHE WAS A WOMAN AT NINETEEN
AND FACE TO FACE WITH THE FIRST GREAT PROBLEM IN HER
LIFE.” (Suggestion for title decoration:
A pair of reluctant feet standing at the junction
of a brook and a river.)
She stops to pick some columbines
and soliloquizes. The author says: “She
spoke aloud, as if the sound of her voice might convince
her,” but it is not clear from the text just
what she expected to be convinced of. Here is
her argument to herself:
“COLUMBINE!... SO THEY
NAMED ME THOSE MINERS WHO FOUND ME A
BABY LOST IN THE WOODS ASLEEP
AMONG THE COLUMBINES.” (Decorative nasturtiums.)
Having convinced herself in these
reassuring words as she stands alone on the ridge
in God’s great outdoors, she explains that she
has promised to marry Jack Belllounds, the worthless
son of her foster-father, although any one can tell
that she is in love with Wilson Moore, a cow-puncher
on the ranch. You will understand what a sacrifice
this was to be when the author says that “the
lower part of Jack Belllounds’s face was weak.”
To the ranch comes “Hell-Bent”
Wade, the mysterious man of the plains. He applies
for a job, and not only that, but he gets it, which
gives him a chance to let us know that:
“EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO HE HAD DRIVEN
THE WOMAN HE LOVED AWAY FROM HIM, OUT INTO THE WORLD
WITH HER BABY GIRL ... JEALOUS FOOL!... TOO
LATE HAD HE DISCOVERED HIS FATAL BLUNDER....
THAT WAS BENT WADE’S SECRET.” (Fancy sketch
of a secret.)
And as we already know that Columbine
is almost nineteen (I think she told herself this
fact aloud once when she was out riding alone, just
to convince herself), the shock is not so great as
it might have been to hear Wade murmur aloud (doubtless
to convince himself too), “Baby would have been let’s
see ’most nineteen years old now if
Any bets on who Columbine really is?
Let us digress from the scenario a
minute to cite a scintillating passage, one of many
in the book. Wade is speaking:
“’You can never tell what
a dog is until you know him. Dogs are like men.
Some of ’em look good, but they’re really
bad. An’ that works the other way round.’”
Oscar Wilde stuff, that is. How
often have you felt the truth of what Mr. Grey says
here, and yet have never been able to put it into words!
It is this ability to put thoughts into words that
makes him one of our most popular authors today.
But enough of this. “Hell-Bent”
Wade determines that his little gel shall not know
him as her father, and, furthermore, that she shall
not marry Jack Belllounds. So he goes to the
cabin of Wils Moore and tells him that Columbine is
unhappy at the thought of her approaching you
guessed it nuptials.
“PARD! SHE LOVES ME STILL?”
“WILS, HERS IS THE KIND THAT
GROWS STRONGER WITH TIME, I KNOW.” (Heart and
an hour-glass intertwined.)
Let it be said right here, however,
that Jack Belllounds, rough and villainous as he is,
is the kind of cow-puncher who says to his father:
“I still love you, dad, despite the cruel thing
you did to me.” No cow-puncher who says
“despite” can be entirely bad. Neither
can he be a cow-puncher.
It is later, after a thrilling series
of physical encounters, that Columbine tells Jack
Belllounds in so many words that she loves Wils Moore.
“Then Wade saw the glory of her saw
her mother again in that proud, fierce uplift of face
that flamed red and then blazed white saw
hate and passion and love in all their primal nakedness.
“LOVE HIM! LOVE WILSON
MOORE? YES, YOU FOOL! I LOVE HIM! YES!
YES! YES!” (Decorative heart, in which
a little door slowly opens, showing the face of Columbine.)
But time is short and there is a Semon
comedy to follow immediately after this. So all
that we can divulge is that Jack has Wils Moore wrongly
accused of cattle-rustling, bringing down on his own
head the following chatty bit from his affianced bride:
“SO THAT’S YOUR REVENGE....
BUT YOU’RE TO RECKON WITH ME, JACK BELLLOUNDS!
YOU VILLAIN! YOU DEVIL! YOU”
It would be unfair to the millions
of readers who will struggle for possession of the
circulating-library copies of “The Mysterious
Rider” to tell just what happens after this.
But need we hesitate to divulge that the final subtitle
“‘I HAVE FAITH AND HOPE
AND LOVE, FOR I AM HIS DAUGHTER.’ A FAINT,
COOL BREEZE STRAYED THROUGH THE ASPENS, RUSTLING THE
LEAVES WHISPERINGLY, AND THE SLENDER COLUMBINES, GLEAMING
PALE IN THE TWILIGHT LIFTED THEIR SWEET FACES.”