Monday, August 18, 2014

Ruth Roland, The Sheriff of Stone Gulch (1913)

Ruth Roland
Ruth Roland (1892-1937), along with Pearl White, was the queen of the early movie serials. She came from a show business family, and had been a child vaudeville performer when she began a movie career at Kalem Studios in 1909. Over the following two decades, she appeared in more than 200 films and was especially good in westerns and comedies.

In 1915 she had the lead role in a 14-episode adventure serial titled The Red Circle (a birthmark, on the hand of the heroine, noticeable only in times of stress and excitement, forces her to steal, leading to multiple complications and intrigue). After the success of this series, she formed her own production company, making six more multi-episode serials that also proved to be moneymakers. She continued in the movie business until 1930, when she made the first of two talkies before retiring from the screen.

In the following one-reeler, she plays the sweetheart of a man (Pat Hartigan) wrongly involved in a robbery. Her father (Vincente Howard) is the sheriff of the film’s title, and her sweetheart—with a little help from her—has to act fast to clear himself of the crime.

What to look for. The film is not particularly noteworthy. The exterior settings contribute some visual dynamics and depth, though connections between them are poorly established, and the story itself is a bit less than coherent.

The chief excitement is delivered by a lot of coming and going of riders on horseback, sometimes in chases with bursts of smoky gunfire. The frame also fills at times with bodies in motion, as when the characters in one scene exit toward the camera, which, as the sheriff approaches, closes in on the star pinned to his vest.

Worth a mention is Marshall Neilen, who turns in an animated performance as Black McCarty, the desperado. Neilen would have a long Hollywood career, with over 250 credits, well into the 1930s, as actor, director, and writer.

For more of Tuesday's Overlooked movies, click on over to Todd Mason's blog, Sweet Freedom.


Image credits:
Photo of Ruth Noland,

Coming up: The Western Writings of Stephen Crane


  1. I have not heard of these but they look fun - love the title.

    1. There were several Stone Gulch movies: The Schoolma'm of Stone Gulch (1912) (Short), The Beauty Parlor of Stone Gulch (1912) (Short), The Medicine Show at Stone Gulch (1914) (Short)

  2. I'm sure I've seen her in some oldies.

  3. A lot of gun smoke and climbing on and off horses. I'm surprised the hero didn't kiss his horse instead of the girl. A nice little movie.

    1. After watching it several times, I came to feel that way about it, too.