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The Spoilers (1914)

The first of many filmed adaptations of Rex Beach's adventure novel of the Alaskan gold-rush.


Colin Campbell


Lanier Bartlett (scenario), Rex Beach (novel)


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Cast overview:
William Farnum ... Roy Glenister
Kathlyn Williams ... Cherry Malotte
Tom Santschi ... Alex McNamara (as Thomas Santschi)
Bessie Eyton ... Helen Chester
Frank Clark Frank Clark ... Dextry (as Frank M. Clark)
Jack McDonald Jack McDonald ... Slap Jack (as Jack F. McDonald)
Wheeler Oakman ... The Broncho Kid, alias of Drury
Norval MacGregor ... Judge Stillman (as N. MacGregor)
William Ryno William Ryno ... Struve (as W.H. Ryno)
Marshall Farnum Marshall Farnum ... Lawyer Wheatin


As owners of the richest mine in Alaska, Roy Glenister and his partner Dextry go to the States during the winter after Glenister has reached an "understanding" with dance hall girl Cherry Malotte. Meanwhile, in Washington, Alex McNamara wants to send corrupt Judge Stillman to Nome to further his scheme to rob all of the mine owners in Alaska of their claims. When the judge becomes ill, he sends his unwitting niece Helen Chester with the important documents to Alaska. On the trip, she meets and is mutually attracted to Glenister. In Alaska, McNamara's scheme is almost accomplished until Glenister and Dextry, with the aid of lawyer Bill Wheaton, precipitate the arrest of the conspirators and the restoration of their claims. The Bronco Kid, who with Cherry had hoped to keep Helen and Glenister apart, turns out to be Helen's long-lost brother. In the end, Helen and Glenister admit they love each other. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Western







Release Date:

11 April 1914 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guldgraverne i Alaska See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


For years film critics considered the Santschi/Farnum fight to be the benchmark against which all future screen fights were measured, including four remakes of the original. See more »

Alternate Versions

Additional scenes added for a 12-reel version released in early 1916. Novelist Rex Beach appeared as himself in one of the new scenes. See more »


Version of The Spoilers (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

First You Have To Explain....
10 April 2005 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

At the top of the comments page is a request: if you've seen this title, please write a review for others. But there is so much to explain about this movie before a useful comment can be made, that it becomes a meaningful problem.

First and foremost, this is a silent picture in black and white. This means that, at the time I write this review, perhaps one person in ten thousand would be willing to see it at all. The prejudice against black and white movies is, I feel, foolish, but silent movies pose an even greater problem to the modern moviegoer. As brilliant as they may be, it is usually only the great comedies that make any sense to modern moviegoers. Silent movies are rewarding, yes, but they are not meant for the passive moviegoer who sits down and says "Entertain me!" You must pay attention. You must understand that you are dealing with a society that is long gone. Are there a hundred people alive in 2005 who saw this movie ninety-one years ago?

The last and foremost problem is that this is not a movie such as you are used to, a series of pictures that tell a story with occasional titles to convey dialogue or scene-setting. No, the titles tell the story and the movie illustrates it. This movie-making technique was dying out when this movie was made.

If you are willing to put in the work to look at this movie, here are some of the things you might wish to look for.

First, the prints available seem to be in good shape, but there seem to be issues with the continuity. Perhaps someone went back and edited the movie to make it shorter, and did a bad job. Perhaps when this print was assembled, there were technical issues with the cutting continuity. The acting is primitive, even by the standards of the era.

Despite those issues, the movie was such a success that it made its lead, William Farnum, a major star and made its production company, the Selig Polyscope, a lot of money -- always an important issue for commercial art. The good points of this movie are that it is much more complicated than later versions of this often-filmed movie. It hints at the complexity and philosophic issues of the Rex Beach novel it is based on. True, this makes characters appear out of nowhere and vanish just as suddenly, but such issues are not restricted to movies more than ninety years old.

It also has some beautiful cinematography, particularly the early, ship-bound sequences which seem to have been filmed on actual ships of the era. And once the action gets going, it gets moving fast, with explosions and fistfights aplenty.

So, is this movie worth your time? I'm afraid you'll have to look at it and tell me.

16 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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