Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Tale of poverty and depression is a film about three people who live in the shanties in the California mud flats and decide to leave to the city for a better world.
PART ONE OF TWO
Many, many intertitles all the way through.
(In this film's intertitles, all the characters are given allegorical names: The Boy, The Girl, The Child, The Brute. This practice was fairly common in silent days, but in "The Salvation Hunters" it's more than usual).
Bird in the water. Static big ship in port, birds on foreground. Big ship sailing. Wreck. Rotten boats. Decaying fish and driftwood. Scavengers birds in deck. Cat eating a dead fish. Two silhouettes in the sea, splash of water.
A man, the Boy (George K. Arthur) walking along the deck, lots of boats. Intertitle describes the Boy as a failure, coward and dreamer. Medium close up of Boy ( face shows he is thinking). The Boy walking back from were he came, with a frustrated attitude.
A dredge (heavy metal container - used for sucking up mud, sand, rocks, etc. from the bottom of the river). The Intertitles tells us that the claw was a symbol of the Boy's faith… mud could be brought up into the sun.
Busy harbour. Sign "No help wanted", the Boy crestfallen walking along. Intertitles says that in his dreams he never walked alone… Love have chosen him a companion.
A woman, the Girl (Georgia Hale), standing on the dredge platform. The intertitles tells us that the dredge have picked up the Girl with other mud - and there she stayed embittered.
Medium close up the Girl, still standing, holding a black cat. Low angle shot of empty platform, the Girl walking and going down the stairs, the cat in front of her. Several working with fishing nets, the Boy walking by. The Girl walking on the empty platform, leans against a rail and looks towards the water. A man looks at her through the hatch. Medium close up of the Girl with her arms crossed, totally absent-minded. The man leaves. The Girl still standing, dredge in the background, the man comes down and walks towards her, looks at her, she does not react.
The Boy, in the harbour, walking towards a sign. The sign is in Japanese (or Chinese?), the Boy takes out his hat and scratches his head, makes a gesture with his face ( as if he already accepts defeat).
The man leans against the rail next to the Girl.
The Boy looks at a sign "Help Wanted". He smiles, fits his hat, goes up the tall ladder, he hesitates, looks down, but continues climbing. As he is arriving up, a man comes and removes the sign, the Boy goes down the ladder.
The Girl and the man are talking, both still leaning in the rail. He offers her a cigarette and lights it up, the Girl looks down at him. The man touches her, she gives him "a terrible look", he leaves.
The Boy walking along the shore (wreck), crestfallen, throwing stones (we could notice his frustration).
The Girl sitting in capstan, smoking and looking at the water. The Boy goes up to the platform, approaches the Girl, rotates the capstan and the girl spins. The Boy enthusiastically talks to the Girl, but she resists and turns around. The Boy takes the cigarette from her mouth. The intertitle: "Good girls don't smoke". She, in anger, takes the cigarette back from him.
Shots of the dredge in action. The Man (the one that was talking to the Girl) walking along the mud deposit, the claw in foreground dropping the mud in deposit,
a child is sitting there. Medium close up of Man and Child.
Intertitle: A helpless child of the mud… his parents have been killed by the dredge.
The Child (Bruce Guerin) sitting and looking at the water.
The Boy and The Girl not talking. He walks away from her. Medium close up o the Girl, smoking, looking sad, then a glimpse of a smile and probably hope, looks at the Boy. The Boy standing looking towards the river. The Girl throws the cigarette. The Boy, the claw in the background moving towards the deposit. The Man helps the Child to walk away. Shots of claw and mud.
Intertitle: "For every load of mud the claw dislodged, the earth laughed and pushed in another"
The Girl comes near the Boy, the Boy comes to talk to her, the claw is always moving around in the background. Man scolding the child to get down who is standing on a pipe. The Boy playing with the Girl's hair, she has no reaction, the Boy turns around to see the Man hitting the Child. The Boy and the Girl paralysed watching the scolding Man. Intertitle: "Coward".
Man still hitting the Child. The Boy runs toward them and embraces the Child and takes him away from the Man. The Man follows, the Boy and Child run. The Girl watching the whole scene. The Man running after them, he lost them. The Man gets mud splashes. The Child and the Boy checking were is the Man and hiding. The Girl looks up, smiling, to the man operating the dredge. Several shots of the machine operating (wheel, claw,etc.). We notice now that the man operating the dredge is playing a trick to the scolding Man ( the mud splashes are intentional). The Girl is happy and smiling at the whole scene. The scolding man, all splashed in mud, is very annoyed and is making gestures with his hands. The Boy and Child get into the platform and join the Girl, she walks away from them. The scolding Man is getting rid of all the mud he has on his body. The Girl, the Child and the Boy sitting down on a trunk. The Child pushes the Boy aside but they do not pay any attention to him, so he sits down on the floor.
Intertitle: " Flotsam, Jetsam and Company"
(Goods that remain floating on the surface after a shipwreck or accident are called flotsam, while jetsam refers to goods thrown overboard, by a vessel in distress. Such goods found by other persons must be returned to the owner, while flotsam and jetsam must be returned only if the owner makes a proper claim).
The three of them are still sitting down and looking miserable.
Intertitle: "Let's get away from the mud" ….. "Where to?… there is mud all over". The Boy gets angry, stands up and begins to walk backwards and forwards. The Boy convinces the Girl to take the Child and accompany him to the city.
The Child discovers that there is a noise coming out from the trunk. The three of them are listening…
Intertitle: "The black cat, like an evil spirit, warn the three nobodies to leave the dredge before the thundering mud could bury their souls".
The Boy still convincing the Girl to take the Child and leave, she refuses, they begin to walk away but the Child gets back to the Girl, she refuses again. They leave. The Girl looking at the claw, the mud, etc. She follows them.
Intertitle: And so they move… follow by misery, flanked by failure and lack of confidence, shadowed by despair…
The three of them leaving in a boat.
END OF REEL ONE
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