John Dawson loses control of his factory when he is crippled in an accident caused by a rival. Destitute, he travels the country organizing the homeless to help him regain control of his ... See full summary »
John Dawson loses control of his factory when he is crippled in an accident caused by a rival. Destitute, he travels the country organizing the homeless to help him regain control of his steel mill. Written by
Arlene K. Witt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I guess one of the reasons I liked this film so much was because my expectations were so incredibly low. After all, this film was made by a "Poverty Row" studio I'd never heard of and the movie has slipped into the public domain. Plus, while I like the star, Lionel Atwill, he had a habit of making films for crap studios. Fortunately, I was wrong and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie...even if the plot is a tiny bit tough to believe.
The film starts off with Atwill playing a tycoon who owns a very successful steel mill. He's an interesting boss, as he often goes to work with the men in the mill! I thought this was an interesting idea but it didn't work all that well for one major reason--Atwill's erudite presence just made it very, very hard to believe him working in a steel mill! But, despite this, the plot became very interesting very quickly. It seems that a corporation wanted to buy up his mill but Atwill had no interest in selling. So, to force the sale, the leader of some horrible schemers did some outrageously evil things. First, he instigated an accident in the mill where Atwill was almost killed. In fact, his legs were burned off by molten steel deliberately poured on him!! He spent the next several months in the hospital--during which time, the evil plan grew. First, they convinced him to give his power of attorney to his "loving wife"--who then sold the mill! Then, she ran off to Europe with all the funds--leaving Atwill poor and without the business! Later, however, Atwill is able to recreate his fortune in a very unique way--he forms a union, of sorts, with the handicapped beggars on the street (much more common in the 1930s than today, thank God). He helped them find gainful employment, invested their earnings, got them health and retirement plans--and made a wonderful life for these marginally employable men. Why he did this was partly because he was a nice person and part of this was so that he could rebuild his fortune and regain his old factory. The plan would take many, many years and there were some nice twists along the way, but by the end of the film, he has his confrontation with his arch-enemy--the man who did so much to orchestrate his ruin.
Overall, the film has a truly unique plot that kept me guessing. While you'd think it would simply be a tale of betrayal and revenge, it was so much more. It also is one of the better early depictions of the handicapped as having so much more to offer society and themselves. And, to top it all off, the acting was very good--especially Atwill and his friend, played by Henry Walthall. A nice little hidden gem.
By the way, a 9 seems like a high score, but I am comparing it to other B-films. Compared to the rest, this is definitely a standout--one that got me thinking well after the film ended.
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