starring Betty Compson, Ricardo Cortez, Wallace Beery and George Bancroft
November 1925

When James Cruze starts shaking the dust from American history, then you have a picture that makes you sit up and take notice. For this director can resurrect our picturesque past with so much vividness and imagination that one of his films is better than a hundred orations on patriotism.

"The Pony Express" is not another "Covered Wagon;" it runs on its own legs. Henry James Forman's story is so crowded with history, so dramatic in its outlines and so rich in incident that it is more a pacemaker than a follower. It tells how California, by a slim thread of cross-country messengers, was saved for the Union. Most of the action is laid in Sacramento and at the station in Julesburg, Colo., at the time of Lincoln's election. It's a story of Indian fights, of gun duels and of deeds of daring. It is animated by the figures of the tenderfoot Mark Twain and of the young Bill Cody.

The cast is composed almost entirely of players who are well-known "picture stealers." The hits are about evenly divided with Wallace Beery and Ernest Torrence tying for the first place and with George Bancroft as a close second. Then there is Ricardo Cortez who, wonder of wonders, makes the hero a really interesting person instead of just the fellow who gets the girl. Betty Compson has but few important moments, but at least the picture fades on the finest close-up Miss Compson ever had taken.

Now as long as Mr. Cruze seems to have a gift for this sort of thing, will he please tell us about Columbus and the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria? If necessary for a good movie, he can have Columbus marry Queen Isabella.

starring Betty Compson, Ricardo Cortez, Wallace Beery and George Bancroft
December 1925

History stalks across the screen again in the picturization of the West of the days when California was isolated from the Union. When it comes to painting it in all its romantic glamour, James Cruze of "Covered Wagon" fame is the right man for the job. He covers himself with glory in animating it with vigorous action, in giving it one thrill after another and saturating it with atmosphere. The picture's flaws may be attributed to its series of counterplots, for it seems as if a complete story could be woven around each important character. Another error is its length, it being expanded considerably beyond the point where the story logically ends. Nevertheless, it is a highly interesting picture with its graphic depiction of romance and history in the West. Ricardo Cortez plays the express rider with good feeling, while Wallace Beery and George Bancroft enact their roles with commendable vigor.

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