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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

J.B. Warner in Big Stakes (1922) & Arizona Days (1928) Bob Custer

J.B. Warner in Big Stakes (1922) & Arizona Days (1928) Bob Custer

Big Stakes (1922) J.B. Warner

"In BIG STAKES Elinor Fair, the proud Castillian daughter of Don Enrico, master of a large Mexican rancho, is betrothed to the Commandante of Sonora, Mexico, Capitan Robert H. Gray, but she shows a romantic interest in devil-may-care Americano J. B. Warner who is not taking life too seriously until he meets Fair.

Infuriated with Fair’s interest in Warner, Gray has Warner and his tubby comedic sidekick, H. S. Karr, captured and brought to Sonora. Gambling for his life, Warner challenges Gray to a deadly contest with the victor winning Fair and the loser forfeiting his life to the bite of a poisonous Gila Monster. A secondary plot has an American enemy of Warner’s, bullying Les Bates, leading a band of Klan-like night-raiding marauders.

To wreak vengeance on Warner, Bates has captured an American girl, Wilamae Carson (who is also fond of Warner), in order to lure Warner into a revengeful trap. There are several surprises, and big stakes, in order before it’s over.

Talented producer/director Clifford S. (Sanford) Elfelt, born February 15, 1890, in Chicago, Illinois, was a former cigar salesman and operator of a movie exchange who became a director at Universal in 1916 and Fox in 1917. It is Elfelt who spotted Warner when the cowboy made several two reelers at Universal, saw great potential in him and signed him to star in features for Elfelt’s East Coast Productions. (Incidentally, Elfelt cast his former wife, minor actress June La Vere [real name Gladys Elfelt], in Warner’s DANGER in ‘23.)

When Warner then signed with Sunset, Elfelt hooked up with fledging Davis Productions to produce Ken Maynard’s first westerns (including $50,000 REWARD. DEMON RIDER, etc.). Unfortunately, Davis floundered and Elfelt went bankrupt. He left films altogether in 1926 after directing Bill Patton in UNDER FIRE for Davis. (Thanks to Evy Patrick for early years research.)

James B. Warner was born in Chadron, Nebraska. His father was William H. Tobias but J. B. was raised by his mother’s parents whose name was Warner. J. B. legally changed his name to Warner, considering his grandparents his father and mother. He was not the brother of film star H. B. Warner as is often reported. J. B. entered the Army in 1917 and was discharged as a Corporal two years later. It was then he came to the attention of Universal, probably at first as a riding extra." Boyd Magers

Warner's career remains a "What if", as the handsome young actor never did mature into one of the "wax works" of the silent era his brother H.B. played in Billy Wilder's 1950 Hollywood classic, Sunset Blvd. (1950). Not yet 30, J.B. died on November 9, 1924, in Los Angeles, California, from tuberculosis.


Arizona Days (1928)
Bob Custer, cowboy star of the 1920s and '30s, fights rustlers and saves the heroine from a Fate Worse Than Death in this typical B western from the last days of the silent era. Directed and co-starring J.P. McGowan, sadly overlooked personality who was actively involved in movies from their dawn until his death in the '50s.

Bob Custer, Peggy Montgomery, J.P. McGowan

Bob Custer stars in this rare silent western. Pretending to join a gang of rustlers in exchange for the protection of his herd, a rancher is really a spy for the cattlemen's association.

When Bob comes along on a similar mission, the rancher's daughter mistakes him for one of the gang. She soon changes her mind when Bob rescues her father and goes after the leader of the gang.

Two little gems on one no-region DVD.
In DVD/CD sleeve, photo label.
Guaranteed/replaced with same title.

Tangled Trails (1921)

Corporal Jack Borden (Neal Hart), of the Northwest Mounted Police, trails the man who killed his partner to New York City.

The killer is an unscrupulous promoter who is selling worthless stock in a gold mine.
Borden, with the help of Blanche Hall (Gladys Hampton), locates the man in a Bowery dive, but he escapes and Borden tracks him back to Canada.
Along the way, he discovers that Blanche and his sweetheart, Milly (Violet Palmer), are long-separated sisters and brings about a reconciliation.

Stars: Neal Hart, Violet Palmer and Gladys Hampton
Director: Charles Bartlett
Writers: Charles Bartlett (story), Charles Bartlett (scenario)
Production Co: Neal Hart Productions
Release Date: December 1921
Runtime: 56 min

In DVD/CD sleeve, photo label. Guaranteed, replaced with same title.

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1 DVD in DVD/CD sleeve, photo label. Guaranteed, replaced with same title. 


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