First National

Cast: Constance Talmadge (Phyllis Tomley), Harrison Ford (Hector Tomley), Kenneth Harlan (Donald Wales), Joe Roberts (Roarin' Bill Rivers), Charles Stevens (Pedro), Chief John Big Tree (Indian Chief).

Phyllis Tomley lives in a dream world of romance novels. The novel she is presently reading is "The Primitive Lover" by Donald Wales a former beau who has disappeared and is presumed dead.

Phyllis' husband, Hector, who was a friend of Donald, does not measure up to the heroes she admires so much in the novels. "Do you love me enough to throw yourself into the sea that I might live?" she asks Hector. His only response is, "I'm afraid, dear, that you're a little bilious." With that, Phyllis grows angry. She reminds Hector that she was once engaged to Donald adding, "I knew what romance was then!." She continues her tirade by calling Hector "an iceberg" and "an unromantic fish!"

Later, the two of them are at the home of Phyllis' parents, and who should appear but Donald Wales! Phyllis looks as if she's seen a ghost, but Donald grabs her and begins kissing her passionately telling her that his disappearance was a publicity stunt for his latest book . . . AND that he and Hector had planned the whole thing. When Donald learns that Hector and Phyllis are married, he accuses Hector of scheming to get him out of the way so he could marry Phyllis himself. Hector swears he thought Donald was really missing when newspaper accounts began to back up the story.

Of course Phyllis is angry, too, and when everyone turns on Hector, he simply gives up and says, "I thought I could win her love. But I've failed . . . I'm willing to step aside." As Phyllis' parents look on in disbelief, Phyllis charges, "There! What did I tell you! His very willingness to give me up proves that he doe not even love me!"

To expedite their divorce, Phyllis establishes residence in Nevada, and, with Hector being very cooperative, the divorce is granted, although we have some indications that Phyllis may have wanted things to turn out differently. As a matter of fact, she asks Hector to come see her that very afternoon, so that, according to a title, she can "put him on the carpet." She rails against him calling him a "shameless reprobate" and tells him she "never wanted this divorce in the first place," but now that she has learned what he is really like, she is glad it happened.

That evening, Hector is in his room feeling very depressed, but, a title tells us, "A man can't be a somnambulist all his life, and by evening Hector began to wake up." Picking up a copy of Donald's book, he throws it out the window accidentally hitting an Indian squaw in the head. When he goes outside to apologize, she begins beating on him. Her husband, Chief Bluebottle, comes along and, surprisingly, shoves her out of the way adding a swift kick to her backside as she departs. Hector says it's "OK" since he was at fault. The Chief says, "Man never wrong. Squaw just humble dog. No got right to talk back. Squaws like 'em heap rough stuff. I sabbe, I already got twenty-two."

With this, Hector begins to get an idea and tells the Chief he'll talk to him later. On the way back to his room, he spots Phyllis and Donald on the porch. He overhears Donald tell Phyllis, "Some day we'll go into the primitive, God-ennobling wilderness, just you and I. There, freed from the vulgar conventionalities of life, I'll teach you what love is." He also hears of plans they have to take such a trip.

Next we see Phyllis and Donald riding in a car along a beautiful mountain road, but we are also shown a masked bandit in full cowboy attire, a mask covering his entire face and a gun slung from each hip watching the car travel along. The bandit runs to the road ahead and lies down as if injured. When they stop the car to help him, he jumps up, pulls his guns on them and orders them out of the car, luggage and all. The driver is told to leave, and Phyllis and Donald are forced into the wilderness.

A little while later, they arrive on horseback at a cabin high in the mountains. The bandit orders them off the horses and into the cabin. Inside, the bandit removes his mask ­ it's Hector! "I heard you tell Phyllis that only in the unfettered wilderness could you prove to her how much you loved her. Now is your chance!" Hector says, adding "When I'm convinced you are the right man for Phyllis, I'll let you go!"

Supposedly their escape from the cabin is being guarded by a "half-breed" Hector has been posted above the cabin. What Donald and Phyllis don't know is that it's a dummy he has placed there.

After Hector leaves to go to his cabin a little further up the hill, Phyllis coos, "Isn't this romantic!" to which Donald growls, "It's ridiculous!" and vows to find a means of escape.

Donald doesn't prove to be as adept in the wilderness as the hero of his novel, and, when he and Phyllis attempt to make a fire to cook by, they only succeed in smoking up the cabin. When they look out the window, they see Hector walking toward his cabin with supper on his shoulder, a freshly killed deer. What they don't know is that the Chief is in Hector's cabin, and he's the one who has killed the deer.

It is agreed later that Phyllis will go and ask Hector for some matches. When she arrives at his cabin, she finds him sitting at the table to a sumptuous meal. Starving, whenever he turns his back, she steals some food to put under her coat or stuffs it in her mouth.

While this is taking place, Donald looks out the window and notices the "half-breed" who is supposed to be guarding them fall asleep, or, at least that's the way it appears to him. What he doesn't realize is that the burro has knocked the dummy over. When he goes to investigate, he discovers the ruse, and takes the horses back to the cabin.

Phyllis' visit to Hector's cabin doesn't go as Hector had hoped. She gets angry with him and stomps out. However, upon arriving back at her cabin, she learns that Donald has the horses, and they can now escape. As they attempt to do so, Hector discovers them and draws his gun. Phyllis grapples with him so Donald can escape and go for help.

That evening in Phyllis' cabin, we see a roaring fire, and she is apparently cooking supper. At the table, she sets two places, looks at the door, and, with an angry look on her face, takes one of them away. After some rethinking of her actions, she replaces the plate and continues preparing her meal for two.

Although a terrible rain storm is raging outside, two men arrive at her cabin and walk right in. It's Roarin' Bill Rivers, the leader of the group of cattlemen, and a shifty-looking Mexican named Pedro. Bill demands that he and Pedro be served supper. Reluctantly, and very much in fear for her safety, Phyllis does so. Unfortunately, she is not a cook, and Bill and Pedro soon find that out. The hot cakes she cooked are tough as shoe leather, and, upon drinking some of her coffee, Bill spews it out of his mouth.

As Bill recovers from Phyllis' meal, Hector comes in and draws his guns on the two men. Bill assures him that he meant no harm and even apologizes to Phyllis for rude remarks he made about her cooking. Suddenly, another of the cattlemen bursts in. "The lightning has stampeded the cattle," he says. Bill and Pedro rush out, and Hector goes along to help, but not before leaving Phyllis one of his guns.

Later, as Phyllis awaits their return, the door is blown open by the storm, and her lantern is blown out. After shutting the door, she re-lights the lantern only to find Pedro standing in the shadows.

We are then shown Bill and Hector in the pouring rain with the cattle. Bill, looking around, suddenly realizes Pedro isn't there and tells Hector, "Beat it back to your woman!"

Hector succeeds in rescuing Phyllis from her danger just as Donald arrives with men to arrest Hector. However, they take Pedro away instead of Hector, much to Donald's chagrin. Of course, this isn't the biggest disappointment Donald is dealt ­ after the ordeal, Phyllis runs back to Hector who has returned to his own cabin. By the way, to end things very neatly, they also find out that the divorce decree never went through, so they are still married!

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copyright 1999 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved