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The Signal Tower (1924)

 |  Drama  |  20 July 1924 (USA)
6.4
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A railroad worker accepts a colleague's offer to stay in his home, but when his friend is called out one night to stop a runaway train, he makes a play for the man's wife.

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Cast

Cast overview:
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Rockliffe Fellowes ...
...
...
James O. Barrows ...
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
Dot Farley ...
Clarence Brown ...
Jitney the Dog ...
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Storyline

A railroad worker accepts a colleague's offer to stay in his home, but when his friend is called out one night to stop a runaway train, he makes a play for the man's wife.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

20 July 1924 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das rote Signal  »

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1.33 : 1
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A print of this film survives in the UCLA Film and Television Archives. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Clarence Brown's Talents Were Always on Display!!
28 December 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

There are some directors you will never be wondering about - "how could the director of the magnificent ??? direct this thing"!!! Once studio heads saw how Clarence Brown was able to appreciate and exploit Garbo's evocative charms his reputation was made but judging from "The Signal Tower", an early effort, he was always able to bring out sensitive performances in even the most elusive star.

Even though a tribute to the signal tower men, Brown imbues the beginning with some beautiful pastoral location scenes, trains going through the forest etc. There are some lovely establishing domestic shots, very reminiscent of King Vidor - Brown shows an idyllic home life with chocolate cakes, licked bowls, a capering, fun loving dad, David (Rockcliffe Fellows, just so great in "Regeneration") not to mention, "Jitney" a hungry dog!! Into this blissful scene comes Joe Standish (Wallace Beery) a replacement for "Uncle Billy" who is happily retiring after 50 years of service. Joe is no "Uncle Billy", he is a womanizing troublemaker - however David still asks him to board with them as they are desperate for the money. Cousin Gertie (Dot Farley) is there on a short visit but is swept off her feet by Joe, even though he is not interested, it is the elusive Sally, David's wife, he is really after. And Sally, by sending Gertie home (she is worried about the foolish girl and wants her back under the guidance of her patient fiancée) leaves herself wide open for the unwanted attentions of Joe - he thinks she has orchestrated events on purpose!! Brown brought out hidden feelings and emotions from Virginia Valli, an actress I was never really impressed with.

Playing their son, Sonny, is Frankie Darro an impressively natural little boy actor. He is the lynchpin of the film - he takes to Joe from the start, captivated by Joe's bag of tricks and while David initially feels a man who can get on with kids can't be too bad, he comes to realise that a child only sees the surface, not underneath. The climax involves those indispensable railway staples - a runaway train and a terrible storm. One of the engines is on a collision course, unless one of the signal men can stop it and it all appears to rest with David who is battling torrential rain as he tries to jemmy the track in an effort to derail the train!! He has already sent Joe about his business but Joe is still baiting the hapless husband with brags about his exploits. Meanwhile David has sent Sonny up to the house with what he thinks is an unloaded pistol - it is for Sally to scare off Joe if he makes his unwelcome presence felt!!

Just a great little movie - Wallace Beery carries the film I believe, talking movies took away a lot of the nuances and subtlety from his silent acting.

Highly Recommended.


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