William S. Hart and Fritz star in the William S. Hart production of "Sand" (1920), directed by Lambert Hillyer and distributed by Famous Players-Lasky Corp, which had a virtual monopoly on movie theaters that the Federal Trade Commission eventually busted up
(see discussion here).
Magic lantern slide image on modern 4x5-inch Kodak color positive film. (The original slide would be smaller, 3¼x4¼, and it would be glass.)
Filmed in Victorville, "Sand" is a 5-reeler with a 50-minute runtime. IMDB gives a domestic release date of June 20, 1920; Koszarski (1980:118) says June 27, 1920.
From Koszarski (1980:118): Produced by the William S. Hart Company; distributed by Paramount-Artcraft; released June 27, 1920; ©December 23, 1919; five reels (4869 feet).
Directed by Lambert Hillyer; screenplay by Lambert Hillyer from the story "Dan Kurrie's Inning" by Russell A. Boggs; photographed by Joe August and Dwight Warren; art director, Thomas S. Brierley; edited by LeRoy Stone; art titles by Ralph Warren.
Cast: William S. Hart (Dan Kurie); Mary Thurman (Margaret Young); G. Raymond Nye (Joseph Garber); Patricia Palmer (Josie Kirkwood); William Patton (Pete Beckett); Lon Poff (Jim Kirkwood); Hugh Jackson (Pop Young); Fritz ("The Boss").
Synopsis: "Sand" opens with Dan Kurrie on the way to Condor to replace a station agent who has grown old in the service of the railroad. The train stops at a small station where a railway hold-up occurred and Kurrie is told the bandits escaped into the river and then all trace was lost of them. Arriving at Condor, Dan Kurrie finds he is to replace Pop Young, father of his sweetheart. He declines the job, but Pop assures him he has another position, so Kurrie goes to work. Pop's new job is in the general store of Joseph Garber, who also is a stockholder in the railroad, and who aspires to marry Young's daughter. Finding Kurrie in his way, he manages to have him fired. Kurrie immediately gets a job on a ranch, where he worked years ago, and at the same time gets his old Pinto pony back.
In a talk with his pal, Kurrie mentions his pleasure at receiving the pony back. Part of this conversation is overheard by his sweetheart, Margaret Young, and she believes he is talking about a girl on the ranch. Believing Kurrie false, she renounces him and decides to marry Garber. Kurrie is crushed, but out on the range he tries to forget her.
One day while riding near the railroad he is fired upon by a Mexican. He returns the fire, hits his man, who confesses to a plot to hold up a train which is nearing. Here comes a series of thrilling episodes, fast riding and a leap from a cliff to the river. Kurrie arrives on the scene as the hold-up is going on, fires at them in the rear and the gang is captured, with the aid of the surprised trainmen. Pulling off the masks of the bandits, the leader is discovered to be Garber — and at the same time Margaret Young, who was on the train running away from Garber, appears. Garber is unmasked as the leader of the gang which has been committing all the hold-ups. Dan and Margaret come to the right understanding. (Moving Picture World, February 14, 1920.)
Reviews: Bill Hart is back in a true-to-life Western role in "Sand" which is announced as the first of the New Hart series in that the rugged actor is depending entirely upon his own efforts to "put over." And "Sand" has sand. It is a typical Hart picture, only somewhat better than those he has been making for the last year or so. It shows careful attention to everything, a novel plot and enough thrills to make it please most everybody. The Pinto pony shares honors with the star … the locations chosen for this picture are not very original, but that fact does not deter from its value as entertainment. There are a few river scenes that will command the admiration of everybody. (M.A. Malaney, Moving Picture World, February 14, 1920.)
It may be said of Mr. Hart that as a station agent he is a fine movie actor. One shudders to think of the collision that would undoubtedly send their hordes into eternity were Big Bill really at the key with a dark-eyed maid in the offing. True, he uncovers the real bandits who aren't really Mexicans as supposed, but — whisper. True, he foils the robbery of the station safe. But also, true, he certainly neglects his post something scandalous in the cause of chivalry. (Mae Tinee, Chicago Tribune, 1920.)