Song of the West

Song of the West
Directed by Ray Enright
Written by Harvey F. Thew
Based on the Broadway Operetta by Oscar Hammerstein II and Laurence Stallings
Starring John Boles
Vivienne Segal
Joe E. Brown
Music by Harry Akst
Grant Clarke
Oscar Hammerstein II and Vincent Youmans
Cinematography Devereaux Jennings
Edited by George Marks
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
March 15, 1930 (1930-03-15)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Song of the West (1930) is a musical operetta film produced by Warner Bros., and photographed entirely in Technicolor. It was based on the 1928 Broadway musical Rainbow by Vincent Youmans (music), Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) and Laurence Stallings (book). It starred John Boles, Joe E. Brown and Vivienne Segal, and was the first all-color all-talking feature to be filmed entirely outdoors.


The story takes place in 1849. Captain Stanton (John Boles), who because of a misunderstanding over a woman with Major Davolo, has been cited for a court martial. As a scout, he is sent to escort a wagon train which is under military escort. It turns out that this escort is his own former regiment. When he meet Davolo, there is another fight and between Stanton and Davolo in which Davolo is killed.

The colonel has Stanton put in the guard house on a murder charge. He escapes disguised as a parson and continues along with the wagon train in order to be near Virginia, the daughter of his former commander, played by Vivienne Segal. They fall in love and when Stanton decides to leave the wagon train, Virginia follows him.

Stanton marries Virginia and opens a gambling hall. When the regiment eventually turns up at the gambling hall, Virginia makes merry with her former friends. Stanton, in a fit of jealousy, leaves the establishment with another woman and tries his luck in California, searching for gold. He has poor luck and becomes a derelict. Eventually he meets his wife in San Francisco, resulting in a happy reconciliation. Some soldiers find him and give him a choice between being deported or re-enlisting in the army. He re-enlists. Joe E. Brown, in the part of Hasty, his doomed sidekick, provided the comedy for the film.



This was Boles's follow-up to his successful role in The Desert Song (1929). The film was finished in June 1929. Following a number of dismal previews, however, Warner Bros. shortened the film by two reels, removing some of the musical content in the process. In spite of being delayed for almost a year before release, the film had a worldwide gross of $920,000 and the featured songs were quite popular, leading RCA Victor to hire Boles, who was then at the height of his popularity, to record "The One Girl" and "West Wind" for commercial release.


All written by Vincent Youmans and Oscar Hammerstein II unless indicated


Alleged recently discovered fragment showing the wagon train in the film.

Since 1970s, no copies of the film are known to exist. The complete soundtrack survives.

Although the film's copyright was renewed in 1956, it does not appear to have been shown on television. 16mm prints of early Warner Bros. films, including sound-on-disc films, were made in the 1950s for distribution to local television package (see Associated Artists Productions), and some two-color Technicolor films now survive (in black and white) only because of those prints. Some pre-1931 sound films made by Warner Bros. and First National have been lost because United Artists (former rights holder of pre-1950 WB films) donated most films to foreigh film preservation or private collector and presently it is impossible to search for a film after when UA donated to the Library of Congress the earliest surviving preprint material from the pre-1950 (including some pre-1931) film library of Warner Bros. and post-1923 First National library.

In a June 2011 forum discussion, a small fragment, running about a minute, was claimed to have been discovered in the UK and identified as being from the film.[1]

See also


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