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Hell Bent (1918)

A cowboy must save his girlfriend from captivity and then cross the desert on foot with a single waterhole on the way.


John Ford (as Jack Ford)


John Ford (story) (as Jack Ford), Harry Carey (story) | 3 more credits »

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Credited cast:
Harry Carey ... Cheyenne Harry
Duke R. Lee Duke R. Lee ... Cimmaron Bill (as Duke Lee)
Neva Gerber ... Bess Thurston
Vester Pegg Vester Pegg ... Jack Thurston
Joe Harris Joe Harris ... Beau Ross (as Joseph Harris)
Steve Clemente Steve Clemente ... Undetermined Role
Millard K. Wilson Millard K. Wilson ... Undetermined Role
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Molly Malone Molly Malone ... Undetermined Role


A cowboy must save his girlfriend from captivity and then cross the desert on foot with a single waterhole on the way.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

6 July 1918 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Three Bad Men See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was presumed lost until a print was discovered in the Czechoslovak Film Archives. See more »


Referenced in Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Plot is When Two People's Plans Collide
29 September 2018 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

A writer gets a letter that says that his characters and plots are unrealistic. Looking at a Remington picture, he imagines a story....

It's Harry Carey fleeing the county after a kerfuffle at a poker game. He dumps his cards and heads into Rawhide, a mining town where there are dozens of people leading their own lives with their own plots and plans. As he settles in, notices them and deals with them, character is revealed and the plot of Carey's story, the story the author is telling is revealed.

It's a nice story-telling technique, revealing character by action and plot arising therefrom. In a 50-minute western, of course, they can be only the briefest of sketches: Duke Lee as a mean man with a sentimental streak and love of singing "Sweet Genevieve"; Joe Harris as a dandy who robs gold shipment and is recognized.... but not when it comes time to tell Wells Fargo; and Neva Gerber, a girl who goes to work in the dance hall because her brother, Vester Pegg, is too lazy to work. She is the love interest, who rebuffs Harry when he grabs her in the dance hall, but invites him home when he apologizes sincerely.

Ford's movies are composed of shots filled with strong compositions. Westerns were a very conservative genre, where the visuals that had worked for early William S. Hart films would turn up again in the 1950s, and iris shots persisted well into the 1930s. Ford only used one iris shot here, and it's for a portrait shot of Carey. Otherwise he uses objects to frame his performers, changing the size of his canvas to focus the audience's attention. When people stumble in the empty desert, somehow it's by a random pile of brush; people stand in narrow doorways (a shot he would use to bookend THE SEARCHERS forty years later. Ford spent his early years building up a lexicon of shots and his later westerns make use of them.

It's not a great movie. It's too brief to explore its themes, too short a shooting schedule to perfect its images (although Ben Reynold's camerawork comes darned close), It's still a lot of fun and good to see in studying the evolution of a great director.

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