A bizarre mix of "yellow peril" sensationalism and ordinary Wild West shenanigans, this silent melodrama was directed by actor Paul Hurst. Pat O'Brien -- who may or may not have been the Pat O'Brien of hard-boiled Warner Bros. talkies -- starred as Jim Kern, a cowpoke enlisting in the war to end all wars. Returning from the front, Kern finds that an "Oriental," Frank Akuri (Seymour Zeliff), has not only forced his sweetheart, Mary (Hedda Nova), off her ranch but is planning to colonize the United States on behalf of Japan. Jim, naturally, takes umbrage to this unwholesome scheme and when Akuri kidnaps Mary for wholly prurient reasons, the cowboy and a war buddy (Pat Corbett) put everything they have learned fighting the Evil Hun to good use. Mary is rescued in the nick of time and the American West is liberated from tyranny once and for all. Shadows of the West was apparently produced in eight reels in 1920 but thought unreleasable due to its inflammatory characterization of Japan. Motion Picture Producing Co. of America reduced the film to five reels, eliminating the worst of the "yellow peril" propaganda in favor of the more wholesome Western aspects. As such, it was finally distributed by National Exchanges in 1921.
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