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Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938


Before High Noon, Unforgiven, and True Grit, there was a wilder, wider West on film. Treasures from the American Film Archives: Volume 5: The West (1898-1938), is a 10-hour set celebrating the dynamic, gender-bending, ethnically diverse West that flourished in early movies but has never before been seen on video.

Treasures 5 presents the American West as it was recorded and imagined in the first decades of motion pictures. Among the 40 selections are Mantrap (1926), the wilderness comedy starring Clara Bow in her favorite role; W.S. Van Dyke’s legendary The Lady of the Dugout (1918), featuring outlaw-turned-actor Al Jennings; Salomy Jane (1914), with America’s first Latina screen celebrity Beatriz Michelena; Gregory La Cava’s sparkling Old West–reversal Womanhandled (1925); Sessue Hayakawa in the cross-cultural drama Last of the Line (1914); one-reelers with Tom Mix and Broncho Billy, Mabel Normand in The Tourists (1912), and dozens of other rarities.

Treasures 5 showcases both narrative and nonfiction films. In addition to early Westerns, fascinating actuality films abound: travelogues from 10 western states including Seeing Yosemite with David A. Curry and the Fred Harvey Company’s The Indian-Detour; Kodachrome home movies; newsreels about Native Americans; and documentaries and industrial films about such Western subjects as cattle ranch-ing in Santa Monica, riding the rails along the Columbia River, how vaqueros made horsehair ropes, the birth of the canned fruit industry, and the beginning of the water wars. There are even vivid docudramas by crime-fighting lawmen: Bill Tilghman restaging his capture of the Wild Bunch and a Texas sheriff reliving his fight against ammunition smuggling on the Mexican border. For full list of films, visit the NFPF Web site,

The motion pictures are drawn from the preservation work of the nation's foremost early film archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, and UCLA Film & Television Archive—and include movies recently repatriated from the New Zealand Film Archive. Many of the films have not been screened in decades. None has been available before in high-quality video.

Sample Titles

Theatrical Release: 1898 - 1938

The 'Treasures Collections' - #1 - 50 films preserved by America's premier archives, #2 - More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931, Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film 1900-1934, Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986 and Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938.

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 3:20:06 + 3:19:03 + 3:19:18
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Disc 1

Bitrate: Disc 2

Bitrate: Disc 3

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles None (intertitles are in original English)

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Newly recorded music in two-track stereo
• 132-page illustrated book of program notes
• Commentary by 23 experts
• Nearly 400 interactive screens about the films


Program 1
• The Tourists (1912, 6 min.), Mabel Normand runs amuck in Albuquerque’s Indian market.
• The Sergeant (1910, 16 min.), first surviving narrative shot in Yosemite.
• Salomy Jane (1914, 87 min.), Gold Rush tale with America's first Latina movie star Beatriz Michelena.
• Sunshine Gatherers (1921, 10 min.), canning California fruit, in Prizmacolor.
• Deschutes Driftwood (1916, 10 min.), riding the rails along the Deschutes and Columbia rivers.
• “Promised Land” Barred to “Hoboes” (1936, 2 min.)
• Last of the Line (1914, 26 min.), cross-cultural tragedy, with Sessue Hayakawa.
• The Indian-detour (1924, 16 min.), in the Southwest on a Fred Harvey Company motor tour.
• Native American in Newsreels (1921–1938, 5 min.), Indians Invade Nation’s Capitol and 4 other stories.
• We Can Take It (1935, 21 min.), Civilian Conservation Corps at work.
Program 2
• Over Silent Paths (1910, 16 min.), daughter avenges her father’s murder.
• Life on the Circle Ranch in California (1912, 12 min.), cattle ranching in Santa Monica.
• Broncho Billy and the Schoolmistress (1912, 14 min.), America’s first cowboy star courts a pistol-packing schoolmarm.
• How the Cowboy Makes His Lariat (1917, 3 min.), Pedro Leon demonstrates the vaquero’s art.
• Mexican Filibusters (1911, 16 min.), intrepid woman does her bit for the Mexican Revolution.
• The Better Man (1912, 12 min.), Mexican bandit proves his worth.
Ammunition Smuggling on the Mexican Border (1914, 41 min.), Texas sheriff reenacts kidnapping by revolutionists.
• Lake Tahoe, Land of the Sky (1916, 6 min.), travelogue celebrating the new auto road.
• Mantrap (1926, 71 min.), wilderness comedy with Clara Bow and a woman-hating attorney.
• From The Golden West (1938, 8 min.), oil wells, drive-ins, and more in Kodachrome home movies.
Program 3
• Lady of the Dug-Out (1918, 64 min.), Al Jennings plays himself as a bank robber with a heart of gold.
• From Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw (1915, 13 min.), Bill Tilghman reenacts his capture of the Wild Bunch.
• The Girl Ranchers (1913, 14 min.), comedy in which sisters inherit the Rough Neck Ranch.
• Legal Advice (1916, 13 min.), Tom Mix falls for a lady attorney.
• From Womanhandled (1925, 55 min.), sparkling Gregory La Cava in which a modern ranch poses as the Old West to fool New Yorkers.
• Beauty Spots in America: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona (1916, 6 min.), spa for the rich and famous.
• Romance of Water (1931, 10 min.), how L.A. got its water.
• A New Miracle in the Desert (1935, 1 min.), bringing Colorado River water to California.
• The West in Promotional Travelogues (1898–1920, 22 min.), tours in 7 states, including Seeing Yosemite with David A. Curry.

DVD Release Date: September 26th, 2011

Custom Case with 3 slim transparent cases 



Another delightful 'Treasures' package from the National Film Preservation Foundation. In number 5 we get 40 western films, dating all the way back to 1898, on 3 DVDs. The transfers are dual-layered and interlaced (frame rate conversion) and the quality varies - but the majority is in splendid condition. There are a few tints and some less-pristine than others with vertical scratches but no excessive damage (comparatively speaking from examples we have seen in the past). 

My estimation is that there is over 10-hours of features. They run as short as 3-minute (How the Cowboy Makes His Lariat) and almost 1.5 hours (Salomy Jane). This content is rich and filled with Americana - the 2.0 channel musical accompaniment is totally enjoyable. Intertitles all seem original and silent era fans should jump all over this. The enclosed booklet covers the 3 programs (one per disc) in more detail and there are over 20 commentary tracks by experts to indulge in. You may select a "Play All' option and this is how I viewed, in the pitch black of my home theater - and the time flew by. This is an enchanting presentation - the primordial soup of western film. An incredible amount of love and dedication has gone into this package and it will definitely be a big part of our year end poll. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

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