You can tell, even without the title card, that this is a poverty row film.
How can you tell? The leading lady and the other two female actors in it are not good looking! I'm not saying they're not good actresses, the actress playing the mother can give some of the best dirty looks I've seen in an picture.
But I felt sorry for the title character, having to do love scenes with a homely woman! I'll bet he probably thought "ugggh!" before kissing her and I wouldn't blame him.
But, as stated in my title, this isn't a bad film. It's very interesting to get a glimpse of how life probably was back then.
The Hoosier Schoolmaster comes to the small town of Flat Bend to ply his trade. A family called Means takes him in. The mother (the one who gives the great dirty looks) wants him to marry her daughter, who is the homeliest of the three I've named (and that's saying something!).
In addition to the patriarch, matriarch and homely sister, there's also a "pa" and two brothers. What's neat is one of these brothers is the only actor in this movie I had heard of prior to watching, Nat Pendleton. Pendleton who won the gold medal in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, went on to make a name for himself in gangster pictures. He proves to be a good guy in this one, though.
Also, in residence is the leading lady, an orphan girl "bound out" (whatever that means) to the family. The Hoosier Schoolmaster gets interested in her, which displeases the mother and results in some of those aforementioned dirty looks.
There have been a lot of thefts in the area. As it turns out, none other than the local doctor and his assistant as well as two mean-looking guys with the surname Jones are the leaders of the gang.
Another robbery occurs and the community is out for blood! They want to hang somebody! The chief suspect (I've already told you who did it) is a War of 1812 veteran who reminds me of old Ben Gun from the 1934 movie Treasure Island. He's keeping the "bound out" girl's little brother named Shocky, probably so-named for the shock of hair on his head.
The schoolmaster and Pendleton enable the War of 1812 veteran to escape and the schoolmaster stays behind to face the mob. He fights the off.
The mob, led by one of the Jones boys, an actor who can snarl about as well as I've seen an actor snarl, decide to go and hang the schoolmaster. The schoolmaster, despite some resistance, manages to beat the mob to the house of the justice of the peace, known as the Squire. The schoolmaster asks the squire to arrest him and put him in protective custody.
The mob gets there shortly thereafter and despite, the squire's best efforts, they're about to take the schoolmaster to hang him, anyway. Pendleton shows up in time, rifle in hand, to send the mob away.
The squire calls for a trial. The prosecutor, a well-fed-looking chap, gets enough people to lie under oath to get the schoolmaster, who is acting as his own lawyer, feeling the heat.
Just in time, Pendleton (see what I mean from his being a good guy in this one?) shows up just in time with the doctor's assistant in tow. The assistant eventually confesses to all. The crowd turns against the guilty parties and want to hang them, but the schoolmaster calls off the mob and says they should receive a fair trial, too.
Shortly thereafter, he and the leading lady (ugh!) kiss and that's the end.
It's Poverty Row, all right, but still a good enough movie to warrant a look.
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