The Silver Horde Reviews
There are all sorts of problems with the film, which hasn't aged well. The dialogue is stilted, and both McCrea and Arthur's acting is awful. There is not a whole lot to the plot, and it is tedious in developing. The sound quality is tinny even for 1930, especially early on. I'm not recommending you stick this one out even though it's only 75 minutes long, but if you do, a little after the one hour point you'll be rewarded with Brent bawling out Arthur, which is easily the highlight of the movie. Midway through the film you may also like the footage of the salmon in Alaska, going from them happily swimming upstream to spawn, to being caught, and then processed in an assembly line, but to me, these scenes didn't add anything, and seemed like filler.
There sure was a lot of testosterone in evidence in this early talkie - which takes place mostly in a fishing village in Alaska...where all arguments are settled one way or another with fists. Three minutes past the opening credits and we have our first brawl.
Boyd (Joel McCrae) and Fraser (Raymond Hatton) are out-of-luck gold miners who have decided to call it quits and head back to civilization. The first sign of civilization they run into is a small fishing village where they are treated to a rather rude welcome by the sparse populace. Hungry, cold and tired, Boyd becomes frustrated when one too many doors are slammed in his face...so he picks a fight with the next guy who tries to turn him away.
The fight is broken up by Cherry Malotte (Evelyn Brent) who happens to be the leader of the village. When the dust has settled, Cherry explains to Boyd that the villagers are very suspicious of strangers...ever since an unscrupulous company decided to horn in on the villager's territorial waters. The Silver Horde of the title refers to the huge schools of salmon which makes their way past the villlage during spawning season.
The palooka that Boyd had been fighting with, George Balt (Louis Wolheim) knows the best places to fish but doesn't have the capital to go after it. Sensing that he might have better luck with The Silver Horde than with mining gold - Boyd strikes a deal with Balt. Boyd knows a banker- actually, the daughter of a banker, Mildred (Jean Arthur). He assures Balt he can borrow the capital for their fishing venture.
I've never heard of Evelyn Brent even though she made over 120 films (mostly silents & B movies it seems). She is actually the highlight here as Cherry Malotte. Now you know she isn't named "Cherry" for nothing. She never really mentions her profession by name - but you can guess. Especially when she secretly helps Boyd secure the needed capital from the banker by offering her brand of "collateral"...heh.
This is by no means a great film...being an early talkie - the technical aspects aren't very good. The story is simple-minded and dialogue delivered in that early style of acting that can be off-putting to those that hate the classic style. What can I say, it's one of Joel McCrea's earlier efforts... and his best is yet to come.
Now I didn't recognize Jean Arthur when she first appeared here. I thought it was Ruby Keeler at first. I didn't particularly care for her "flapper" look here. I think she'll look much much better later - especially late 30's, early 40's...
THE SILVER HORDE was filmed in Alaska and does contain some interesting footage of the fishing boats and fisheries at the time. Stuff like that always fascinate me anyways...
6 / 10