Western double feature at Wilton Town Hall Theatre

Published: 7/22/2021 3:06:05 PM

He’s the most influential cowboy you’ve never heard of. He’s Yakima Canutt, a silent era Western star who later went on to a behind-the-scenes career working on some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.

Canutt, famous for his equine skills and stunting ability, will be featured in a pair of action-packed early features in the next installment of the Wilton Town Hall Theatre’s series on the origins of the Hollywood Western.

“Branded a Bandit” (1924) and “The Iron Rider” (1927), both starring Canutt, will be shown on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m.

The program will feature live music by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis.

“In this series of early Westerns, many of these films are nearly 100 years old, and so they’re not far removed from the ‘Old West’ depicted in them,” Rapsis said.

In “Branded a Bandit,” Canutt (pronounced “kah-NOOT”) is accused of murdering a miner whose family he was trying to aid; in “The Iron Rider,” Canutt cheated in a poker game, and later learns the card sharks are wanted men, prompting a pursuit for justice.

In “Branded a Bandit,” Canutt broke his nose in a 12-foot fall from a cliff. The picture was delayed several weeks, and when it resumed, all of Canutt’s close-ups were shot from the side. A plastic surgeon reset the nose, which prompted Canutt to remark that the fall actually improved his looks.

But Canutt’s starring pictures were only a small part of a long and influential Hollywood career.

Canutt, whose given first name was Enos, later adopted the nickname “Yakima” after the Yakima River Valley in Washington.

Canutt was known for his proficiency in dangerous activities such as jumping off the top of a cliff on horseback, leaping from a stagecoach onto its runaway team, being “shot” off a horse at full gallop and other such potentially life-threatening activities.

During the golden age of the Hollywood studio system, Canutt became an expert at staging massive events involving livestock, such as cattle stampedes and covered-wagon races, as well as Indians-vs.-cavalry battles on a grand scale.

Admission is free; a donation of $10 per person is suggested to support the Town Hall Theatre’s silent film series.

For more information, visit wiltontownhalltheatre.com or call (603) 654-3456. For more about the music, visit jeffrapsis.com.


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