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The Virginian (1920) Starring Gary Cooper

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The Virginian (1929)

Starring Gary Cooper

Gary Cooper, as a lanky Wyoming ranch and foreman, places his gun on a poker table after being insulted by one of the gamblers and intones, "If you want to call me that . . . smile." That much quoted line's origin is in this early sound version of the Owen Wister novel, The Virginian, directed by Victor Fleming. When the Virginian meets his old friend Steve (Richard Arlen), he gives him a job on his crew at the Box H Ranch near Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Newly arrived in town is the new schoolmarm, Molly Wood (Mary Brian), and both men take notice. Afterwards, in a saloon, The Virginian encounters the evil Trampas (Walter Huston), and the two get into an argument over a dancer. The Virginian calls Trampas' bluff but, although Trampas backs down, he seethes inside. Afterwards, following a christening party, The Virginian walks Molly back home, and a friendship grows between the two that burgeons into love. But when Steve joins up with Trampas and his gang of rustlers and is captured by a posse, The Virginian is forced to supervise Steve's lynching. After that, Molly spurns The Virginian. However, when The Virginian is wounded, Molly forgets all that, and nurses him back to health. They decide to finally marry, but Trampas interferes with their plans --Trampas wants The Virginian to leave town, and he is out gunning for him.

Director: Victor Fleming
Writers: Owen Wister (by), Kirk La Shelle (by)

Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Huston, Mary Brian, Richard Arlen, Helen Ware, Eugene Pallette

Cooper later referred to this as his favorite role.
Gary Cooper's first all-talking film. He felt that sound would ruin him, believing his voice wasn't adequate to the task. Yet, it was "The Virginian" that turned him from a promising young leading man into a full-fledged star.
Future western movie icon Randolph Scott, from Virginia, was hired as a dialect coach to teach Gary Cooper a Virginia accent, and also has a small non-speaking part in the film.
As in the novel and the play that the movie is based on, the Virginian's name is never mentioned.
Stunt horsemen Spike Spackman got a bad cut and Bill Hurley fractured his ankle during a scene where several rustlers cross a stream.