Shadows of the West


1921

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 1921
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Cinema Craft; Motion Picture Producing Co. of America
Distribution Company
National Exchanges
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
8 & 5 reels

Synopsis

California cowpuncher Jim Kern and his pal enlist in the war against Germany and, shortly thereafter, meet Frank Akuri, who has pledged to colonize the United States for his homeland, Japan. While Jim and other white males are fighting in France, Akuri forces Jim's sweetheart Mary to sell her ranch, as she is not able to run it because the only men left, the Japanese, have pledged not to work for the whites. With the ranch, Akuri begins his colony. Mary counters by organizing her society women friends to appeal to Congress against the "yellow menace." When it seems that his plans will be thwarted, Akuri issues orders for the death of Mary and her friends, but Jim and his pal return and rescue them. Akuri then kidnaps Mary and takes her to his apartment, but with the help of Akuri's wronged Japanese lover, Jim learns her whereabouts. He organizes a posse of American Legion locals and rescues Mary just as Akuri is about to murder her. Akuri's group is routed out.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 1921
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Cinema Craft; Motion Picture Producing Co. of America
Distribution Company
National Exchanges
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
8 & 5 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Reviews in late 1920, from which the synopsis is taken, label this film as 8 reels in length, produced by Cinema Craft, highly propagandistic, and anti-Japanese. Moving Picture World described the film at length and expressed doubts concerning whether a film of this sort should, in fact, be exhibited: "A propaganda picture pure and simple, based on the presence of thousands of Japanese in California is Shadows of the West.... It attacks the Japanese in a way that, should it attain wide circulation, will increase the difficulties between this country and the island empire. The sons of Nippon are shown as profiteers, wife-beaters and would-be murderers. They are shown dumping fish into the sea in order to maintain high prices (which idea is not wholly Japanese), and are accused of violations of various laws. The direct accusation is made that they menace this country's integrity. They are held up to public view in the worst light, in a way that is calculated to make them nationally hated. In fact, the evident purpose of the picture is to bring about such an overwhelming sentiment against them, and such pressure to bear on Congress, that the legislators will take some action against the Japanese to permanently keep them away from American life. The newspapers advise us that relations between the United States and Japan are delicate and if this be so the circulation of a picture damning the Japanese might well be questioned. A sub-title quotes the principal female character as saying to a mob: 'As a representative of the women voters, I request you to allow the senate to handle this vital question.' This gives a suggestion. The situation, serious without question, could properly be handled by the government and without the necessity for a picture which inflames the minds of the people against the Japanese."
       Apparently the Motion Picture Producing Co. of America reduced the film to 5 reels, played down the "yellow peril" menace, and emphasized the western aspects.