Only the final reel of this John Ford (as "Jack Ford") directed melodrama survives, presently, but it's a good one. We see the storyline's climax, and an epilogue tying up loose ends. Although there are a couple of stand-out performances, some of the acting is of the flailing, bug-eyed variety which some inaccurately believe representative of silent film acting, in general; this is odd, considering Mr. Ford made the transition to directing "talkies" in grand style. The surviving footage is available on Flicker Alley's "Fragments: Surviving Pieces of Lost Films" (2011) and has been shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
The release does not offer any story explanation, and this is one clip that needs some narrative. The "actor" of the piece, and certainly the one who'll immediately grab your attention is George Hackathorne (as Johnnie Hammond), the young man in the wheelchair. In the film's prologue, he was crippled upon falling from a tree as a boy. We see him dragging himself through a storm to confront the story's villains, town squire Tully Marshall (as Ezra Brigham) and likewise nasty son Ralph Yearsley (as Anson)...
One of the silent era's best and busiest character actors, Mr. Marshall is rival to "Village Blacksmith" Will Walling (as John Hammond), a hard-working man. Showing off devilish eye make-up, Mr. Yearsley is loosely responsible for crippling Mr. Hackathorne when they were boys, and has also lured his sister Virginia Valli (as Alice) into an unholy relationship; she has been falsely accused of stealing some missing church funds. Another brother, David Butler (as Bill) is the doctor who operates on Hackathorne. Watch it and you'll see if everything is wrapped up neatly for the good blacksmith and his family.
****** The Village Blacksmith (11/2/22) John Ford ~ Will Walling, George Hackathorne, Tully Marshall, Ralph Yearsley
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