The story takes place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s with a bank clerk named August Schiller who is happy with both his job and his family. He is tasked with transporting $1,000 in securities to Chicago. On the train he meets a blond seductress who convinces him to buy her a bottle of champagne, and takes him to a saloon. The next morning he awakes alone in a dilapidated bedroom and without the securities. He finds the woman and pleads with her to return the stolen securities. When he also threatens her he is knocked unconscious by the saloon owner and dragged to a nearby railroad track. As the crooks strips him of his ID and papers, Schiller recovers and struggles with the saloon owner, ultimately throwing him into the path of an oncoming train, killing him. Schiller flees and, as he is about to take his own life, sees in a newspaper that he is supposedly dead. The saloon owner's mangled body had been identified as Schiller's. Twenty years pass. Schiller is now aged and unkempt,... Written by
Did You Know?
In her autobiography, "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim A Writer in Early Hollywood", Frederica Sagor
claims that the original screenplay for this film was written by her husband, Ernest Maas
. The story - of a man who abandons his family - was loosely based on Ernest's own father, who had an affair with his sister-in-law and destroyed two families in the process. As a fellow German-American, and working in the nascent film industry, Ernest knew Emil Jannings
personally and gave him a copy of the original screenplay. Later, he learned that Jannings had taken it to another director (and studio) and they'd stolen it; this was common in the early film industry. See more
Remade as The Way of All Flesh