Section One

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Blixtens Broder (Brother of the Lightning)
William S. Hart
Gunnar Håkansson, 1922

Film actor William S. Hart was the first internationally renowned star of the American western. During his childhood in Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Iowa, he grew up around Sioux children, learned to speak Lakota, and eventually worked on cattle ranches. Hart trained as a stage actor but turned in the mid-1910s to the western film genre, introducing a new, gritty reality to settings, cast, and costumes.

A writer, director, and screenwriter as well as a compelling screen presence, he became one of the most successful leading men of the era. By the 1920s, Hart’s popularity in America was fading. But the lean, gun-toting cowboy—complete with bandana, boots, and buckskins—in this Swedish poster for the film originally titled O’Malley of the Mounted, promised to deliver what European audiences expected from Hart: a moralistic frontier drama spiced with bucking broncos, wild steers, and “the wild games of the cattle lands.”