A Corner in Wheat (1909)
A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit.- Written by James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No subject has ever been produced more timely than this powerful story of the wheat gambler, coming as it does when agitation is rife against that terrible practice of cornering commodities that are the necessities of life. Laws are being framed with a view of suppressing such nefarious transactions, and no more convincing argument could be shown than that set forth in this picture. Every phase of the question is illumined, beginning with an animated reproduction of Jean Francois Millet's masterpiece, "The Sowers." From the barn they start and with the grain sack hung from their shoulders, the two bent and knotted forms are seen trudging wearily over the plowed ground, their arms swinging in perfect chronometry with a slight gush of wheat grain pouring forth at each advance of the arm. In this scene we find the genesis of one of the mammoth industries of the earth. The foundation of life, for it is the foundation of the bread of life. How little do those poor honest souls realize the turmoil the fruit of their labors will incur. What a contrast is shown in the office of the Wheat King, surrounded by his lieutenants, waiting for the word as he engineers the great corner whereby he will obtain absolute control of the entire produce, not only of the present, but the future toiling of the poor sowers. Into the wheat pit on the "'Change" we go, and there find a struggling mob of brokers with their all slowly but surely melting under the blast of the King's determination. At length the battle is won, and the Wheat King stands majestically amid the debris of wrecked fortunes. Here is the gold of the wheat. He is lauded for his acumen, wined and dined and regarded as a man among men, little thinking of the misery and suffering his so-called genius has induced. Ah! that is the chaff of the wheat. The baker is obliged to pay twice as much as formerly for his flour and so must charge twice as much for the loaf. Consequently, many a poor soul must go hungry. Furthermore, the bread fund for the poor is cut down, and many a shivering wretch stands in the line only to be denied bread when his turn comes. There is no vengeance possible here but the hand of God, and God's vengeance when wreaked is terrible and unconditional, and one of the sins that cries to heaven for vengeance is denying food to the hungry. This cry is heard, and as the King is showing his friends through the elevators into the bins of which are flowing the steady stream of his golden grain, he trips and falls into one of the bins and is buried. He has been called before his God to answer. Our thoughts are carried back to the bent and knotted forms of the sowers trudging along, ignorant of the vengeance of the wheat.- Written by Moving Picture World synopsis
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