Silent movie mega-star Tom Mix stars in this adaptation of Zane Grey's novel as Texas Ranger Jim Carson. Warner Oland, a future Charlie Chan, plays the evil lawyer Lew Walters. Carson's sister Milly (Beatrice Burnham) and her husband Frank Erne (Arthur Morrison) are living a hard scrabble life after their move out west with their young daughter Bess. Walters and his henchmen are about to be kicked out of town and, since Walters is obsessed with Milly, he kidnaps her and Bess, wounding Frank in the process. Before Frank dies, he tells Jim Carson what has happened. Jim dedicates his life to finding his sister and niece. Walters, learning of Frank's death, forces Milly to marry him and hires the head of an outlaw gang to take young Bess away. Milly searches through the wilderness for her daughter and dies without finding her.
After years of searching, Jim Carson -- now known as Jim Lassiter -- learns of Milly's death. Walters has also changed his name -- he is now known as Judge Dyer (but is still as crooked). Carson/Lassiter joins up with rancher Jane Witherstein (Mabel Ballin) in her struggle against a band of rustlers known as the Riders of the Purple Sage.
Will Tom Mix find his niece? Will he and Jane be able to rid the country of the feared Riders of the Purple Sage? Will Lew Walters/Judge dyer finally get his comeuppance? You'll just have to watch this to find out. Or, you can probably guess the answers to those questions.
Riders of the Purple Sage was directed by Lynn Reynolds, who directed 81 films -- mostly westerns -- before shooting himself at age 35 after an argument with his wife. Edfrid Bingham, who adapted Grey's novel for this film, appears to have had a less tragic life (little is known about him), having written 37 scenarios from 1916 through 1927; he died in 1930 at age 59.
A good story, decent acting, great scenery, and plenty of action...Saddle up, partners, and enjoy!