Starring Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky
December 1926

Here is a natural drama so powerful that it completely overshadows every living thing. The desert, cruel, beautiful, unrelenting, eternally struggling against the terrific forces of inventive genius and nature. It is the story of the reclamation of the Imperial Valley, of the harnessing of the Colorado River into a gigantic irrigation project. Even a Duse would be submerged in this conflict of he elements. Sam Goldwyn, with the assistance of Henry King, the director, and Frances Marion, the scenarist, set out to film that great love story of the West, Harold Bell Wright's "The Winning of Barbara Worth," but the simple love tale is swept away by the vastness of the theme. There is till love in it, a strong undercurrent of the poignant feeling incidental to the drama. Vilma Banky is first seen as the pioneer mother, who loses her life in a sandstorm. Her performance is fine and true. Later, Vilma is the daughter of that brave mother. She is exquisitely beautiful, a perfect tribute to perfect photography.

The role of Willard Holmes offers Colman very little chance for emotional work, although he characterizes the Eastern engineer with typical virility. Gary Cooper, a newcomer, as Abe Lee, is worth watching, and the Western characters played by Paul McAllister, Charles Lane, Clyde Cook and E.J. Ratcliffe are perfect to the alkali. But the tremendous theme ­ the desert, the sand storms, the cloudbursts, the raging flood that sweeps the town of Kingston ­ I doubt whether Sam Goldwyn realized its magnitude until it unreeled before the eyes of a brilliant Hollywood first night audience at its world premiere at the Forum Theater.

Starring Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky
Motion Picture Magazine
January 1927

Another Western epic of historical interest has been brought to the screeen in "The Winning of Barbara Worth."

The sturdy, pioneering spirit of empire builders is shown in the early scenes of the picture. The desert with its cruel and death-dealing heat and dry, choking sand storms is conquered by a small band of home seekers with a visionary ideal of some day harnessing the Colorado River to make the desert wastes flower.

If one can overlook the incongruities of the cast, it is a great story told in a very dramatic and compelling way. Vilma, as the virile Western girl, Barbara, gives a very consistent and charming interpretation of the girl - but Vilma is not and could not possibly be the Barbara of Harold Bell Wright's great novel.

Ronald Colman as the engineer who learns to love and fight for the conquering of the desert, even against his own kin, is anything but convincing when the engineer, but very convincing as the lover of Vilma.

Gary Cooper played the most consistent and convincing characterization of the picture as Abe Lee.

The desert is the manacing gesture in the first of the picture, while the very water which they have struggled to bring to the desert forms the tremendous menace in the last climactic scenes. These scenes carry the story thru to a terrific climax.

This picture will be a popular one with men and lovers of epical features of the West. But if you loved the story as Harold Bell Wright wrote it and would be disappointed if you did not see HIS story -- don't go! Otherwise it is well worth seeing.

Produced by Samuel Goldwyn; directed by Henry King.

For more information, see "The Winning of Barbara Worth" as our "Feature of the Month"

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