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The Narrow Road (1912)

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Two men are released from prison after having served their sentences. One is determined to go straight and stay out of trouble, but his fellow ex-con has other ideas, and his plans wind up spelling trouble for both of them.


D.W. Griffith


George Hennessy


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Credited cast:
Elmer Booth ... Jim Holcomb
Mary Pickford ... Mrs. Jim Holcomb
Charles Hill Mailes ... The Counterfeiter
Jack Pickford
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Christy Cabanne Christy Cabanne ... A Tramp (as W. Christy Cabanne)
Max Davidson ... A Tramp (unconfirmed)
Frank Evans Frank Evans ... A Prison Guard
Charles Gorman Charles Gorman ... A Detective
Grace Henderson Grace Henderson
Harry Hyde Harry Hyde
J. Jiquel Lanoe J. Jiquel Lanoe ... A Prisoner / The Foreman
Adolph Lestina Adolph Lestina ... A Bartender
Alfred Paget ... A Detective
W.C. Robinson W.C. Robinson ... A Prison Guard


Jim Holcomb was a good fellow at heart, but having been thrown into evil associations he became perverted. He and a pal were arrested as counterfeiters and sent to the penitentiary. The story opens as their time of sentence is drawing to an end. Jim's faithful wife toils and patiently waits for his release, feeling that a brighter future is in store for them. The day of release arrives and when Jim meets his little wife he tells his erstwhile pal that it is the straight road for him in the future. The pal goes back to his old life, as he reasons it is easier to make counterfeit money than to earn real money. He is soon recognized and chased from his shack, where he is molding the "spurious." In his flight he runs into the apartment in which Jim and his wife live, and persuades them to hide his kit of tools. This rash act nearly costs them dear, for the detectives enter almost immediately. The cause of their escape and the guilty man's apprehension is too unique to describe here. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama







Release Date:

1 August 1912 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A print of this exists in the Library of Congress film archive (paper print collection) [35mm paper positive]. See more »


Referenced in Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

a small sign of things to come
26 July 2005 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

The good things to recommend in D.W. Griffith's short film The Narrow Road are that 1) it's one of the early inspirations for the 'gangster' genre (it's featured as the opening short for another gangster silent film on 'the Origins of Gangster films' from the library of Congress); 2) it contains early signs of Griffith's revolutionary use of cross-narrative storytelling (one thing going on one place, cut to another, and then back again, taken for granted in modern cinema); and 3) how it deals with common people and how they deal with a crime. The story is simple, very simple (man just released from jail, his love, and a suitcase with trouble following it), and the title-cards are the most straightforward bits into one's psyche (i.e. the criminal at the bar, "The crook's inducements almost weaken him"). Aside from curiosity and Griffith aficionados, it's not something one would usually watch just for the hell of it. But for a seventeen minute short film, it could be a lot worse- in fact, it gets a little exciting for the climax, and has some sturdy cinematography for the times.

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