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The Usurer's Grip (1912)

A young clerk, a small salary, a wife and child, the child long ill then the doctor's bill and other bills and debts accumulate; the advertisement in the news about borrowing money on your ... See full summary »


(as Charles J. Brabin)


(story), (scenario)




Cast overview:
... Thomas Jenks
... Mrs. Thomas Jenks
Edna May Weick ... The Jenks' Little Girl
... Manager of the Loan Office
Louise Sydmeth ... The 'Bawler-Out'
... The Enlightened Employer


A young clerk, a small salary, a wife and child, the child long ill then the doctor's bill and other bills and debts accumulate; the advertisement in the news about borrowing money on your furniture at six per cent. Ah. That's the solution. I'll try it. Yes, he tried it and as the picture unfolds itself we see the clerk careworn and desperate borrowing twenty-five dollars from a loan shark, who compels him to return five of it for drawing up papers. At this the clerk remonstrates and shows the loan shark his own advertisement at six per cent. The shark snarls and snatches back the money, but the child is ill, what can he do but submit and take what he gets and sign that fatal card, which reads that he must pay forty-five dollars for tho loan of twenty-five. He signs it; he has to. Now comes with sickening regularity the dreaded monthly payments. He cannot always meet them, what then? Slowly they go, his watch, her brooch and last, the baby's ring. And next comes the "bawlerout." The ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Drama | Short





Release Date:

5 October 1912 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Mildly interesting
16 June 2009 | by See all my reviews

This Edison Company film production is part of a collection entitled "American Film Archives: Vol. 3: Disc 1". The DVDs deal specifically with American short films that deal with various social issues. These are the sort of films that usually would be forgotten or lost had it not been for some film preservationists work. Now this set certainly isn't for everyone, as the content is a bit dry. However, for history teachers (like myself) and cinemaniacs (again, that would be me), it's an invaluable set. As the films are all silent, they actually are very watchable along with the optional audio commentary--which gives nice background information.

THE USURER'S GRIP is, not surprisingly, a film decrying the evil of usurers--people who charge ridiculously high (and illegal) interest rates for loans. A family is in need of some extra money. They see an ad promising low-interest loans and easy payment plans. However, after taking out this loan, the family finds they've been conned and are unable to make their payments. A female employee of the usurer shows up at the poor man's job to bawl him out and ruins his reputation in front of his boss. The result of this is that the employee is fired--and falls even further behind on the loan! Then a "trailer" is then hired to follow the man to his next job and the lady comes once again to bawl him out and hound him--making it impossible to pay the loan when he could get fired again. However, the new boss is a swell fella and helps the man get a low-interest loan to pay off the original loan. In the meantime, however, the loan shark arrives at the same time at the man's house and the wife watches as they cart away his furniture--even the bed where his sick child is sleeping! What are they to do?! Well, see it for yourself to find out if the family can be saved.

Overall, not a particularly fun film to watch but an important film historically. Probably NOT a film for the casual viewer, however.

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