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The Wooden Leg (1909)

A father wants to marry his daughter to a rich man, but she's in love with someone else. She borrows a tramp's wooden leg, pretending that it's hers, and the disgusted suitor rejects her.


D.W. Griffith


D.W. Griffith


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Cast overview:
David Miles ... Harry
Florence Lawrence ... Claire
John R. Cumpson ... Father
Arthur V. Johnson ... Boyfriend
Mack Sennett ... Tramp


Homely as this might seem, it is the moving factor of this Biograph romance. Harry and Claire had long loved each other, but, while Harry was a good sort, Papa had made other plans for Claire. He had arranged to give her hand in marriage to a wealthy old fossil, of whom he knew little but the extent of his pecuniary assets. The day for his arrival was at hand and Harry and Claire determined to make one last appeal. They do, and with usual result. Dejected they leave the room, when a one-legged hobo attracts Harry's attention. An idea! He calls in the tramp and suggests Claire put on the wooden leg, the tramp to hide in the closet. Well the ancient swain appears and presses his suit, which is received with nonchalance by Claire, but when he sees the tip of the wooden leg protruding from beneath the flounce of her skirt he turns and "beats it" with such dispatch that he knocks Papa over when he tries to detain him. The tramp is given a V for his part of the game, and we leave Harry and ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Comedy







Release Date:

8 March 1909 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Released as a split reel along with The Roue's Heart (1909). See more »

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User Reviews

Stumped! or, Mack Sennett as Lon Chaney.

I saw this short film in October 1998 at the Cinema Muto festival in Italy. They screened a print on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. According to the festival's programme, this print had "missing titles" ... however, apart from an opening title and credits, I doubt that this movie ever had titles in the first place: the story is quite simple and doesn't need explanatory text.

IMDb's synopsis is accurate. I wonder if this movie inspired Charley Chase's classic "His Wooden Wedding", in which newlywed Chase is tricked into believing that his wife has a wooden leg.

I'm giving a great deal of slack to the time period in which this movie was made, for a premise that is nowadays quite offensive: namely, that an amputee is unsuitable for marriage. I once had a mutually fulfilling relationship with a one-legged (RAK) lady who had no lack of male suitors.

As I was watching the young and beautiful Florence Lawrence in this brief film, I couldn't help being reminded of her tragic suicide (by a very painful method). More happily, I got a brief laugh from seeing burly slack-jawed Mack Sennett in Lon Chaney territory, as a man with only one leg. I'll rate this movie 7 out of 10.

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