Hit-the-Trail Holliday (1918)

Billy Holliday, a bartender, for refusing to supply drinks to minors at the behest of his employer, loses his job. In the little country town where he has wandered in search of employment ... See full summary »


Marshall Neilan (as Marshall A. Neilan)


George M. Cohan (story), John Emerson | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
George M. Cohan ... Billy Holliday
Marguerite Clayton ... Edith Jason
Robert Broderick Robert Broderick ... Otto Wurst
Pat O'Malley ... Kent B. Wurst
Russell Bassett ... Burr Jason
Richard Barthelmess ... Bobby Jason
William Walcott William Walcott ... Reverend Holden
Estar Banks Estar Banks ... Undetermined Role


Billy Holliday, a bartender, for refusing to supply drinks to minors at the behest of his employer, loses his job. In the little country town where he has wandered in search of employment he finds two elements, one wet, the other dry. When he meets the daughter of the leader of the drys he casts in his lot with them, and when the leader of the wet faction threatens vengeance, Billy is instantly on the job. At a meeting of prohibitionists, which the brewery element seeks to disrupt by the introduction of a number of rough-necks, Holliday takes the platform and nullifies their efforts by a fiery speech. He succeeds finally in putting the wet element out of business, and in winning the love of Edith Jason. He also becomes a power in the community. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Release Date:

9 June 1918 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "Hit the Trail Holiday" by George M. Cohan opened at the Astor Theater on September 13, 1915 and ran for 336 performances. The production moved to the Harris Theater in February 1916. See more »

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User Reviews

Dated satire, vital viewing

Most people's knowledge of George M. Cohan begins and ends with "Yankee Doodle Dandy", which features an embarrassing scene in which retired song-and-dance man Cohan (played by James Cagney) tells some jive-talking jitterbugs that he never appeared in any movies. This is simply not true, as Cagney himself knew well, because Cagney studied Cohan's performance in "The Phantom President" while rehearsing for "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

"Hit-the-Trail Holiday" is a seriously dated satire, on a subject which is no longer topical. But George M. Cohan is a vitally important performer, and his film appearances are so rare that any film in which he appeared is must-see viewing. (Cohan's last film, "Gambling", appears to be lost; evidence indicates that all the prints were intentionally destroyed at Cohan's request. "The Phantom President" remains the best example of Cohan's performing talent.)

In the same way that Cohan's hit Broadway musical "Little Johnny Jones" was inspired by a real person (the jockey Tod Sloan), "Hit-the-Trail Holiday" was inspired by the career of Billy Sunday. In the early twentieth century, Sunday (his real name, apparently) was a professional baseball player who spent most of his off-hours getting drunk. One day he supposedly had a religious conversion and became an evangelist, preaching the evils of alcohol and the joys of Christianity and total abstinence. Newsreel footage of Billy Sunday proves that he put on quite a show, leaping and shouting and howling at the devil and Demon Rum. In the years leading up to the First World War, Billy Sunday was a major figure in America's growing movement towards Prohibition. But Sunday was a controversial figure in his own time: he made a lot of money out of his religious "crusade", and some observers cynically noted that Billy Sunday conveniently "found" religion at just the time when his baseball career was faltering,

In "Hit-the-Trail Holiday", George M. Cohan (who somewhat resembled Billy Sunday) plays a man named Billy Holiday (hmmm...) who is clearly a parody of Billy Sunday. Holiday is a bartender who never takes a drink because he believes that alcohol is evil, although he doesn't seem to mind making money off it. One day he decides to close down his bar and "hit the trail", spreading the word about teetotalism.

This film has one impressive scene in a subway station, and elsewhere there are some heavy- handed jokes at the expense of Germans ... understandable for 1918.

"Hit-the-Trail Holiday" isn't very effective for modern audiences, as few people nowadays have even heard of Billy Sunday, and Prohibition isn't likely to win many 21st-century supporters. In a world of crack cocaine and Aids, it's hard to get worked up over a glass of beer. But any film containing George M. Cohan merits serious attention.

I'll rate "Hit-the-Trail Holiday" 4 points out of 10 for a rare glimpse of Cohan, one of the twentieth century's most important entertainment figures.

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