Wild and Woolly

Wild and Woolly is a 1917 American silent Western comedy film which tells the story of one man's personal odyssey from cowboy-obsessed Easterner to Western tough guy. It stars Douglas Fairbanks, Eileen Percy, Walter Bytell and Sam De Grasse. The film was adapted by Anita Loos from a story by Horace B. Carpenter and was directed by John Emerson.

Wild and Woolly
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Emerson
Written byAnita Loos
Based onWild and Woolly
by Horace B. Carpenter
StarringDouglas Fairbanks
Eileen Percy
Walter Bytell
Sam De Grasse
CinematographyVictor Fleming
Douglas Fairbanks Pictures
Distributed byArtcraft Pictures
Release date
  • June 24, 1917 (1917-06-24)
Running time
5 reels
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine review,[1] Jeff Hillington (Fairbanks), son of railroad magnate Collis J. Hillington (Bytell), tires of the East and longs for the wild and woolly West. He has his apartment and office fixed up in his understanding of the accepted Western style, which he has gleaned from dime novels. A delegation from Bitter Creek comes to New York City seeking financial backing for the construction of a spur line, and go to Collis to explain their proposition. Collis sends Jeff to investigate. The citizens of Bitter Creek, Arizona, realizing that a favorable report from Jeff is necessary, decide to live up to Jeff's idea of a Western town. They set up a program with a wild reception for Jeff, a barroom dance, and a train holdup. Steve Shelby (De Grasse), a grafting Indian agent, knowing that he is about to be caught by the government, decides to do "one more trick" and enters into the plan to rob the train, turning it into a real scheme. Events turn earnest and Shelby kidnaps Nell Larabee (Percy), with whom Jeff has fallen in love. The entire crowd has been trapped in the dance hall, which is surrounded by Indians, and Jeff's revolver loaded with blanks. When the situation is finally explained to Jeff, by superhuman efforts (and typical Fairbanks surprises) he rounds up the Indians, rescues the girl, completely foils the scheme of Steve, and becomes the hero of the hour, getting to marry Nell.



Wild and Woolly was filmed in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century.[2][3][4]


Like many American films of the time, Wild and Woolly was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. The Chicago Board of Censors required cuts of the intertitle "Say, that's a chance for us to clean up big," all scenes of the Indian Agent and Indians with a basket containing flasks of liquor, the three intertitles "Whoop it up and all you capture is yours," You watch every door of the hotel and after I get the girl you kill," and "They can't hurt you, their guns are loaded with fake bullets," scene where Fairbanks is shot, an Indian shoots a man, four scenes of Indians falling after being shot, and the shooting of the express messenger, taking his keys, and the rifling of the express box.[5]

Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance, writing in 2008, believes Wild and Woolly "is the finest of the surviving Fairbanks-Emerson-Loos collaborations and perhaps the best of the thirteen films he made for Artcraft. It was also one of Fairbanks's personal favorites." [6]

Preservation status

Copies of Wild and Woolly are preserved in several film collections and archives, and it has been released on DVD.[7] In 2002, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


  1. "Reviews: Douglas Fairbanks in Wild and Woolly". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 5 (1): 25. 30 June 1917. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
  2. Koszarski, Richard (2004), Fort Lee: The Film Town, Rome, Italy: John Libbey Publishing -CIC srl, ISBN 0-86196-653-8
  3. "Studios and Films". Fort Lee Film Commission. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  4. Fort Lee Film Commission (2006), Fort Lee Birthplace of the Motion Picture Industry, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-4501-5
  5. "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 5 (3): 33. 14 July 1917. Retrieved 2014-11-08.
  6. Vance, Jeffrey. Douglas Fairbanks (Berkeley, 2008), 47. ISBN 978-0-520-25667-5.
  7. Progressive Silent Film List: Wild and Woolly at silentera.com
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.