THE SCARLET CAR

Released 12/24/17 by Universal/Bluebird Photoplays; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: William Parker, from a novel by Richard Harding Davis; Cinematography: King Gray; 5 reels; Print Source: The Library of Congress

CAST: Franklyn Farnum (Billy Winthrop), Lon Chaney (Paul Revere Forbes), Edith Johnson (Beatrice Forbes), Sam De Grasse (Ernest Peabody), Howard Crampton (Cyrus Peabody), Al W. Filson (Samuel Winthrop), William Lloyd (Jim Pettit), Lon Poff, Nelson McDowell (Townsmen),

SYNOPSIS: Paul Revere Forbes, an ancestor of Paul Revere, is a teller at Cyrus Peabody's bank. He learns that Cyrus and his son, Ernest, have speculated with $35,000 of the bank's money, and the entire sum has been lost. When Forbes threatens to expose them, Peabody knocks him unconscious and, thinking him dead, Henry Davidson, a partner in the crime, drives off with Forbes. Forbes' daughter Beatrice is taken in by Ernest Peabody who plans to marry her. Billy Winthrop, a young wastrel who is always in and out of jail, is again bailed out by his father. Having used his last cent to post bail, Winthrop no longer has the money for his payment to Peabody's bank. Billy decides to make good on some of his fathers debts by collecting from his old debtors, and in a short time, Billy has his father's business running better than ever. One day, a scarlet car is found wrecked with Davidson dead in it. Billy convinces Beatrice to leave Peabody and marry him. They sneak off in the rain, but Ernest follows and a fight ensues. Beatrice wanders off in the rain where she finds an old cabin. She is shocked to find her father there alive, but his mind has snapped and he thinks he is Paul Revere. Forbes relates that the car was wrecked and he wandered into the cabin. He has the page from the ledger which would convict Peabody, but in his confused state of mind he refuses to give it up. Meanwhile, Ernest has told the town that Billy abducted Beatrice and the townsfolk head out to tar and feather him while Beatrice goes for a doctor for her father. Just as Billy is grabbed by the townspeople, a man rides by and Beatrice asks him to ride up to Forbes and say that "the general wants the important document." Forbes, thinking this to be the attack of the British, retrieves the hidden ledger page and the townspeople turn on the Peabodys. Forbes' mind begins to return to normal and Billy and Beatrice are finally united.

"THE SCARLET CAR presents a melodrama of considerable interest. The various incidents which lead up to the accusation of Billy with the stealing of the bank funds present an unusual array of complications calculated to rouse the interest at the start and maintain it to an admirable degree throughout the five reels." ---Motion Picture News

"There is a flavor of novelty in the situations and patrons cannot complain that it is just like others they have seen...Al Filson, Howard Crampton and Lon Chaney play their roles skillfully." ---Motography

"Lon Chaney makes a strong character study of the cashier." ---Moving Picture World

"A tiresome feature, made especially so through the ravings of the demented cashier (Chaney). ---Variety

NOTES: Universal remade the same story in 1923. The recommended theme music for the film was "Dramatic Recitative" by Sol P. Levy.


© 1997,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis


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