Produced by Universal/Dorothy Phillips; Released 1/12/18 by Universal/Jewel; Director: Ida May Park; Screenplay: Ida May Park, from a magazine story The Boss of Powderville by Thomas Addison; Cinematography: King Grey; 7 reels
CAST: Dorothy Phillips (Viola Argos), William Stowell (Dick Evans), Jack Mulhall (Jack Ripley), Lon Chaney (Paul Argos), Bert Appling (Red Pete Jackson), Evelyn Selbie (Boston Kate), Alfred Allen (Ben Mackay)
SYNOPSIS: Powderville is a crime-ridden Western town, near which a gunpowder plant is located. While waiting for a train to take her to Powderville to find her uncle, Paul Argos, Viola is assaulted by Red Pete Jackson, a Chicago thug. She is saved by Jack Ripley, who is also on his way to Powderville to work on The Trumpet, the newspaper about to be launched by Dick Evans, "the boss of Powderville." Argos is grateful to Ripley until he learns that he is working with Evans, Argos' sworn enemy. Argos gets Ripley to his room, drugs him, then has him arrested. Ripley wakes up in jail along with Red Pete who was arrested for attacking Paul Argos. Evans gets him out, and Viola later meets him at the newspaper office. Argos finds Viola in the office of his enemy and renounces her. Both Evans and Ripley are in love with Viola, but later, when she disappears, Ripley suspects Evans of kidnapping her. Evans posts a reward for her return, and they learn that Red Pete took her to the house of Boston Kate across the river in Death Valley. The police find the house and Red Pete is arrested. When Evans enters Viola's room, she mistakes him for Red Pete, hurls a lamp at him, and a fire is started. Kate's gang attack them, and Evans, Ripley, and Viola make a hasty retreat, though Evans is wounded. Evans' love for Viola has made him a changed man. He begins a civic pride program, and collects money to build a hospital for the poor. Viola learns that the Death Valley mob is on its way to kill Evans in revenge. The sheriff is unable to stop them and they attack the newspaper offices. Argos sees the battle and becomes mentally unbalanced. He lights matches all around the room and soon his building is on fire with him in it, shrieking wildly. Realizing that their situation is hopeless, Evans persuades Ripley to escape with Viola. Evans rushes out of the building into the mob and is shot. The mob, seeing that the fire is headed for the powder plant, flees in terror. Evans, dying, tells Ben Mackey, his pressroom manager, to tell Viola that he loved her.
"If gunplay, mob stuff and exceptional lightings were the principal ingredients of a motion picture, then THE GRAND PASSION...would rank with the highest, for these ingredients it has in great abundance. Unfortunately, however, these elements so profusely employed do not serve to tell a story clearly and straight-forwardly...Dorothy Phillips, William Stowell, Lon Chaney and Jack Mulhall do their best with roles that have not been properly characterized by the scenarioist." ---Motion Picture News.
"The picture is fairly riotous with action, and might be depressing except for the fact that there is so much humor scattered through it." ---Moving Picture World
"It is much too long and the story extremely draggy...It needs most of all to be retitled and about 2,000 feet eliminated from the running." ---Variety
NOTES: The film was also known as THE BOSS OF POWDERVILLE. Some sources list the film as 6 reels in length. An exhibitor presskit recommended that theatres carry out the following publicity stunt to promote the picture: Send an auto through the streets with a woman and two evil looking men; the woman should have her head muffled, and be forcibly restrained from jumping out. And on the back of the car have a sign, "For the reason for this abduction see THE GRAND PASSION at the ____________ theatre today."
© 1997,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
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