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The Better Man (1912)

With a fondness for gambling, Jim Saunders is given to neglecting his wife and child. One night during his absence at the saloon, Miguel Gomez, a Mexican outlaw, for whom $1,000 reward is ... See full summary »


Rollin S. Sturgeon


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Cast overview:
Robert Thornby ... Miguel Gomez
George Stanley ... Jim Saunders
Anne Schaefer ... Mrs. Jim Saunders
Charles Bennett Charles Bennett ... The Doctor


With a fondness for gambling, Jim Saunders is given to neglecting his wife and child. One night during his absence at the saloon, Miguel Gomez, a Mexican outlaw, for whom $1,000 reward is offered, enters Jim's home and demands food of Mrs. Saunders. Her little child, suffering with a severe attack of croup demands her constant attention and she tells Gomez to help himself. The child is taken with a fit of choking, and her mother, alarmed, asks the outlaw to go for a doctor. He consents and starts on a run for the nearest physician, miles away. As he is running through the foothills, he is met by Saunders, who recognizes him and stops him at the point of his pistol. The Mexican, anxious to notify the doctor, grapples with Jim. They struggle to the edge of a cliff over which he hurls Jim, who falls to the bottom stunned. Miguel jumps upon Jim's horse and hastens on to the doctor, whom he tells of the sick child and induces him to go with him to its relief. After a breakneck ride, they ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Drama | Short







Release Date:

27 December 1912 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Monica, California, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Vitagraph excellence no surprise
15 August 2018 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

As I have several times pointed out, the unduly high estimate of the work of D. W. Griffith's at Biograph was very largely due 1) to the much later importance that Griffith's techniques would have for European film-makers like Gance or Eisenstein (although used for a quite different purpose) 2) the fact that Griffith's films survived in large numbers due to Biograph's prudent disposal of paper print copies with the Library of Congress. Vitagraph, by far the best known and by far the most admired US company at the time internationally (we have the testimony of both Louis Feuillade and Victorin Jasset in this regard) lost all their stock in a disastrous fire. Now that efforts are at last being made to recover the heritage of the past and appreciate in a much broader way the achievement of early film, that illusion based on inadequate information and on a false critical consensus regarding "the grammar" of film, is gradually dissipating. as we discover more and more films of this period both European and US. Not only does this allow us to see the true importance of European films, still the most significant cinema industry in qualitative terms throughout the entire silent period but also to understand why, of the US producers, Vitagraph was such an admired film-company.

This is not an especially wonderful film (Vitagraph's writers were never really a match for its stylistic expertise) but, in technical terms, this film makes the majority of Griffith's shorts look pretty ham-fisted. Griffith's strength was that he was eventually able to organise himself a large degree of directorial independence, that he strove, at times at any rate, to seek out original subject-matter and that he learned, in his early years - from Vitagraph, from the French films that influenced him greatly and, latterly, from the pioneering work of Thomas Ince and was able to make up for some of his inadequacies in terms of mise en scène and gradually push Bitzer to develop the more expansive and fluent style that Vitagraph and Ince had pioneered. The expansiveness one sees obviously - and for the first time really - in Birth of a Nation (but clearly derived from Ince whose, alas lost, Battle of Gettysburg had appeared in 1913 and from the ground-breaking Cabiria of 1914) but the fluency is still rather lacking as the film jerks from episode to episode. That problem Griffith would only really master in Intolerance after which, alas, his learning curve reduced drasticaly as his eminence (and his drinking) increased.

Itis also interesting to note that, in liberating themselves from the oobsession with Griffith that their critical tradition has saddled them with, USians can actually form not a diminished but a richer, more wide-ranging view of their own cinema of this period as well as learning to appreciate that the cinema of the world did not, and does not, revolve, except to some extent in economic terms, around Hollywood. In the 1930s, in my view, the palm passed from Europe not to the US but to Japan. But therein lies another voyage of discovery.

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