"The Last Trail" (1927)

"When it's Ralston time at breakfast,
Then it surely is a treat
To have some rich, full-flavored Ralston
Made of golden western wheat.
The Tom Mix Straight Shooters Are On The Air"

Produced by the Fox Film Corporation
Directed by Lewis Seiler
Six reels
Released on January 23, 1927.
Based on a very popular story, "The Last Trail, a Story of Early Days in the Ohio Valley" by Zane Grey (New York, c. 1909).

Cast: Tom Mix, Tony, Carmelita Geraghty, Lee Shumway, Robert Bower and Oliver Eckhardt.


Tom Dane (Tom Mix) saves Joe Pascal (Lee Shumway) and his wife from an Indian attack, and they promise to name their first son after Tom. Ten years later Pascal, now a widower, with a young son, is the sheriff of Carson City in the heart of the gold country. Most of the gold mined in the area is shipped by the stagecoach line that runs between Carson City and the railroad terminal. Jasper Carrol (Oliver Eckhardt) has the contract to run the stagecoach line, and he is in trouble and may lose the contract due to a series of stagecoach robberies.

Pretty Nita Carrol (Carmelita Geraghty) is assisting Pascal in raising his young son Tom (Jerry Madden). One afternoon as she is preparing to give the youngster a bath, and his father stops by in the stagecoach that he is guarding. Within a few minutes after departing, the stagecoach is attacked by bandits. Nita hears the gunshots and rides to the scene. She helps the mortally wounded Sheriff Pascal try control the stagecoach. Tom, who was on his way to Carson City to see his friend again, rides to the rescue. Later, on his death bed, Sheriff Pascal gives Tom custody of his son and his Sheriff's badge.

Meanwhile the express company doesn't renew Jasper Carrol's contract, and Kurt Morley (William Davidson), who is behind the robberies, decides to enter the race for the contract. To complicate matters, Morley, who had his eye on the pretty young lady, vows to destroy Jasper's chance of obtaining the contract because he has become jealous of the attention that Nita has been giving Tom Dane.

Fearful that Tom may thwart his plan to obtain the contract, Morley sends his henchman to kill him. That evening they attack the house and set it on fire trapping Tom and the young boy in the house. When Morley is told that Tom's house was destroyed, he is now confident he will win the contract. He tells one of his thugs, "We will win this express contract. Then we can hold up our own stages."

Did Tom Dane perish in the fire?

The Reviews

The reviews were very favorable:
Photoplay, April 27, 1927: "Zane Grey plus Tom Mix plus Tony. You can't beat that for a good Western combination."

Harrison's Reports, January 29, 1927: "There is more action in this Western melodrama than there was in any of the pictures Mr. Mix has appeared in for a long time. And in most situations the action is thrilling."

Variety, January 26, 1927, "In this one there is a free-for-all stagecoach race that comes near rivaling the famous the famous chariot race in 'Ben Hur.' It is replete with thrills and spills."

The New York Times, February 9, 1927: "At the Hippodrome is one of Tom Mix's healthful productions in which he has plenty of fresh air and exercise."

Tom Mix

Tom Mix (1880-1940), contrary to his press releases, was born far from the West in rural Pennsylvania. According to the studios press releases, he was the son of a Calvary officer and was educated at the Virginia Military Institute. Hundreds if not thousands of myths were printed about Mix during his long career, and attempting to obtain the truth has become rather difficult. In another review of a Mix film, I quoted information from what I considered a reliable source. I was inundated by correspondence correcting me. From what I can surmise, Mix was never a Texas Ranger although he was made an honoree member many years later as part of a publicity stunt. He never was sheriff of Montgomery County, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona or New
Mexico. He didn't fight in the Mexican Revolution nor was he a colonel with the forces of Madero nor did he take part in the capture of Juarez.

A skilled rider from childhood, Mix began his acting career with the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. In 1909 he won the national rodeo championship. He was later hired by the Selig Polyscope Company to round up horses for a film, and he remained with Selig as an extra and a supporting player. Between 1911 and 1917, he appeared in over 100 one and two-reelers, and he was very popular with the youngsters. When Selig went out of business in 1917, he obtained a position with the Fox Film Corporation and rapidly became the silent screen's most popular star in features with well-developed plots and handled by experienced directors and cameramen. Mix was quite the opposite of the popular western actors of the time. The youngsters preferred his daring stunts and action-filled films that were a departure from the William S. Hart films. Towards the end of the silent era, he returned to the circus, and a few years later he returned to the screen. In 1932 he made a few sound films. Mix retired from the screen in 1934 and was killed in an automobile accident in 1940.

In 1933, the Ralston Purina Company sponsored a radio show about Tom Mix, and it became one of the most popular radio shows when it went on the air on September 25, 1933. The demand for the radio premiums offered on the program began very strong and stayed high for almost 20 years. In exchange for Ralston box tops, they offered, toy guns, rings, model airplane kite, books, coins, sheriff badges, books and many other items. The show ran until television attracted the youngsters, and it ended in 1950. Most senior citizens will recall The Ralston Straight Shooters' Song from the tune of "When the Bloom is on the Sage."

Carmelita Geraghty

Carmelita Geraghty (1901-1966), born in Indiana and educated in New York, was the daughter of Tom Geraghty who was one of Hollywood's best writers. He was employed for a time at First National, and he was one of the writers used on the Colleen Moore films. Carmelita entered films against her parents' wishes, worked as an extra under a fictitious name and received her first feature film credits in "Bag and Baggage" (1923). In 1924 she received a starring role in a Selznick film. She appeared in over 35 feature films during the silent era. Unfortunately she can only be seen in a few including "My Lady of Whims," "My Best Girl," and "South of Panama." She made a few sound films and retired from the screen in 1935.

William B. Davidson

William B. Davidson (1888-1947), a big burly handsome man, was a native New Yorker and a football player at Columbia University. He was a stage actor before he entered films in 1914 at Biograph. An early leading man, he played opposite Ethel Barrymore in "The Call Of Her People" (1917). He was one of the screen's busiest character actors and was comfortable either as a judge or a reporter. He had a long career and made his last screen appearance in 1947. He made many silent films, appearing in 17 features in 1917 alone. Unfortunately, only a few are available including "The Gaucho" and "Sunny."

Zane Grey

Zane Grey (1875-1939), born in Zanesville, Ohio, practiced dentistry in New York for six years before devoting himself to writing stories of the American West. In 1917, Tom Mix appeared in the Selig film "The Heart Of Texas Ryan," which was based upon Zane Grey's story "The Light Of Western Skies." Grey obtained an injunction against the Selig Polyscope Company, and Selig was forced to rewrite and re-cut the film. Another member of the cast was Antonio Moreno. Grey was probably the most popular writer of western fiction in the years before World War II. His books are essentially adolescent fantasies set in the never-never land of the West that was envisioned by the youngsters during the silent and the Depression years. Grey wrote 78 novels, and one of his books, "Riders of the Purple Sage," has sold more than two million copies since it was published in 1912. Zane Grey novels were made into films well until the 1940's, and many of his books are still in print. Many popular Hollywood stars have appeared in Zane Grey's films including E. K. Lincoln, Neil Hamilton, Bebe Daniels, William Farnum, George O'Brien, Jack Holt and many sound era stars including, Jean Hersholt, Victor Fleming, Randolph Scott, and Robert Mitchum.

The Film Encyclopedia
by Ephraim Katz
The BFI Companion to the Western by Edward Buscombe
The Tom Mix Book by M.G. "Bud" Norris
Who Was Who On Screen by Evelyn Mack Truitt
Who's Who In Hollywood by David Ragan
Stars Of The Photoplay (1924) by the editors of Photoplay
Hollywood: The Golden Era
by Jack Spears.

copyright 2003 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

Return to "Rare and Obscure Films" page