Under producer Thomas Ince, star Charles Ray's series incarnated a specific kind of role, as I outline in my Ince biography. A typical sample is HIS MOTHER'S BOY (1917), in which Ray is a young man, in a town outside of Boston. Avoiding women, his "natural manhood stands in grave danger of being mothered out of him."
But righteous anger soon leads him to a new path. Townspeople who invested in an oil well promoted by his late father ostracize the characters of Ray and his mother. This even occurs in church where "narrow minds that twist divine words to meet their own petty ways."
When the town's leading citizens demand restitution from his widowed mother, he heads west to Texas, to check on the well first-hand. There he gradually adjusts to the rough-and-tumble, becoming a roustabout, ultimately saving a girl whose father has been coerced into diverting the oil from the well.
The awkwardness of Ray's hero is symbolized by wearing a hat during the picnic on which he asks the girl to marry him. By the end he is a new man, shooting (but not killing) his enemy in self-defense, and giving his fiancée instructions to always wear her ring henceforth.
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