Last Man Standing
Following the American Civil War widower Mark Hayden (Egon Brecher) heads home with plans to relocate his family West to start afresh but before he does Jed Colby (Noah Beery) who had been feuding with Hayden's in-laws for many years kills his father-in-law. Whilst Jed ends up inside Mark refuses to keep the feud going and whilst his son Lynn (Randolph Scott) stays behind to look after grandmother the rest of the family heads West. But when Jed gets out of jail some 15 years later he is still angry and with his heavies heads West to get revenge on Mark and the family. But matters are complicated as in those 15 years Lynn and Jed's daughter Ellen (Esther Ralston) have grown sweet on each other.
Henry Hathaway's "To the Last Man" is a remake of an earlier western from 1923 but I am convinced that the story was used again in a later western as the whole story of a feud and one family moving away to put it behind them reminds me of another movie, I just wish I could remember what it was. Anyway that aside and "To the Last Man" is another one of Hathaway's westerns from the 1930s which sees parts for many of the actors who were part of his company such as Scott, Crabbe and Noah Beery. But it is also a western from the pre-code era and whilst not as brutal as some of the westerns made now it does show the nastier side of humanity and that basic need for revenge.
As such "To the Last Man" is one of those movies which has more of a historical significance because of the way the movie plays out during its climax but unfortunately on the way to that climax it is only ordinary. In fact this 1933 western most certainly has the style of the silent movies of just a few years earlier which is okay when you watch it in the context of historical significance but makes it stilted if you stumbled across this hoping to be entertained, not that I can see any reason why you would track down an 80 year old western which has been mostly forgotten about in the hope of being entertained.
But as I keep on saying it is the historical significance which makes this movie and when you think about the majority of westerns there was typically an element of decency about them. But here we have a look at mankind at its basic level when it comes to that need for revenge and it certainly makes it a lot more interesting. Also on a slightly quirky manner is that whenever a new character is introduced we get the credits appear on screen. That means that 20 odd minutes into the movie when Buster Crabbe appears it tells us that it is Buster Crabbe playing Bill Hayden. It is unusual but for a movie reviewer makes life easier.
What this all boils down to is that "To the Last Man" is more than ever an old western whose interest now is to those with a real interest in old cinema as it shows a different side to mankind and his need for revenge than you would see in later westerns.