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Riders of the Purple Sage


Riders of the Purple Sage is a 1925 American silent Western film directed by Lynn Reynolds and starring Tom Mix, Mabel Ballin, and Warner Oland. Based on the 1912 novel Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey, the film is about a former Texas Ranger who pursues a corrupt lawyer who abducted his married sister and niece. His search leads him to a remote Arizona ranch and the love of a good woman.

The film is preserved today.

When corrupt lawyer Lew Walters (Warner Oland) is run out of a Texas town, he abducts Millie Erne (Beatrice Burnham) and her young daughter Bess and forces them to accompany him, leaving behind a heartbroken husband and father. Millie's brother, Texas Ranger Jim Carson (Tom Mix), leaves his service behind, takes the name Jim Lassiter, and dedicates his life to finding Walters and his sister and niece. After many years, his search leads him to Cottonwood, Arizona, and the ranch of Jane Withersteen (Mabel Ballin). Jane is attracted to the stranger after he rescues her chief rider, Bern Venders (Harold Goodwin), from being flogged for a crime he did not commit. She tells him that Millie died while searching for her daughter after little Bess was abducted.

Lassiter and Venters go after a gang of rustlers who have been raiding the Withersteen ranch and stealing their cattle. They wound and capture the masked leader of the gang, who turns out to be a young beautiful woman. She is revealed to be Bess Erne (Marion Nixon), Lassiter's long-lost niece. Venters takes charge of the wounded girl, taking her to a secret location, Surprise Valley. The two soon fall in love, and leave the valley to marry.

Meanwhile, Jane admits to Lassiter that the man he is hunting, Lew Walters, is in fact a local judge, now calling himself Judge Dyer. Lassiter rides into town and rushes into Dyer's courtroom, shooting the villain with deadly precision. Soon after, a posse is formed and goes after Lassiter, who flees with Jane and her adopted ward, Fay Larkin (Dawn O'Day), into the mountains surrounding Surprise Valley. They take refuge from their pursuers on a high plateau overlooking the entrance to the valley. The only approach to their hiding place is by a set of stairs cut into the side of the cliff. Lassiter rolls a boulder down from the heights to block the posse's path. There is now no way out. He, Jane and little Fay are trapped inside Surprise Valley forever.


Tom Mix as Jim Carson / Jim Lassiter
Mabel Ballin as Jane Withersteen
Warner Oland as Lew Walkers / Judge Dyer
Beatrice Burnham as Millie Erne
Arthur Morrison as Frank Erne
Wilfred Lucas as Oldring
Charles Le Moyne as Richard Tull
Harold Goodwin as Bern Venters
Hank Bell as Barfly (uncredited)
Gary Cooper as Rider (uncredited)
Seessel Anne Johnson as Bess Erne, as a Child (uncredited)
Fred Kohler as Henchman Tom Metzger (uncredited)
Charles Newton as Henchman Joe Herd (uncredited)
Marian Nixon as Bess Erne (uncredited)
Joe Rickson as Henchman Dave Slack (uncredited)
Anne Shirley as Fay Larkin (uncredited)
Tony the Wonder Horse as Jim's horse

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