SCV In the Movies | Episode 64: William S. Hart in “The Bargain” (1914)
Bill and E.J. wrangle up a silent movie critically important to the Santa Clarita Valley’s film heritage: It was the movie that made Santa Clarita resident William S. Hart a star. From way back in 1914, Hart stars in “The Bargain.”
See Bill Hart begin his career with what would become his trademark for many of his 70 films – his ability to handle pistols two-handed. In fact, in his breakout film here, his character is known as “the two-gun man.”
The soundtrack composer is Ray Lowe, a resident of the San Fernando Valley, who holds a bachelor’s degree in music from UCLA but makes his living as commercial real estate lender for Wells Fargo. Having no professional ambitions in music, Ray uses his musical abilities in a variety of charitable and volunteer settings. Ray has been composing and performing silent movie soundtracks for Friends of Hart Park for over ten years, ever since his then-college age daughter was a Hart Park intern.
The soundtrack added to this Grapevine release of “The Bargain” is the actual live recording performed by Ray at the 2016 Silents Under The Stars fund raiser. It contains all of the glitches, mistakes, and other thrills of a live performance. The one-man live performance constrains the music composition to that which can be played in real time on two synthesizers with two hands and two feet.
Ray’s soundtracks are usually 100% original material, but this time the main theme was taken from the 1835 Southern Harmony hymnal. The tune, entitled “Pilgrim”, was attributed as “traditional”, so we don’t really know how old it is. But the vintage roughly corresponds to the Western setting of “The Bargain”, and Ray thought its plaintive melody fit Bill Hart’s main character.
ABOUT E.J. STEPHENS
He and Kimi, his wife, best friend, and co-conspirator, live in Newhall.
ABOUT BILL WEST
Bill West is a movie nut who serves on the board of Friends of Hart Park, gives tours of the Hart Mansion and maintains the Friends’ website and newsletter.
In his “spare time,” Bill writes software for Walt Disney Imagineering, where he has contributed to Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and other Disney attractions worldwide. Previously, he wrote software at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he met his wife, realtor and model Liliana West.
Bill lives in Santa Clarita with Liliana, their son Josh, and their pets which include Hannah the Dog, Luigi the Canary, Butterscotch the Guinea Pig, and a cat whose name he can’t pronounce but is Polish for “Kitty.”(c) 2016 SCVTV