Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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A book marked 'Mc.Teague by Frank Norris' on a black background opens. On the front page is written "I never truckled; I never took off the hat to fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth; I knew it for the truth then, and I know it for the truth now. Frank Norris." Titles showing The Big Dipper Gold Mine. Placer County, California A.D 1908. Fades into a wooded mountainous landscape. Smoke pours from the chimney of a small cottage. Some kind of factory is at work, two men are bent over the machine. Close up of moving parts. A mans hands reach into a pit of mud and scoop a load up with a trowl. Title-"Gold Gold Gold Gold. Bright and yellow. Hard and cold. Molten, graven, hammered, rolled. Hard to get and 'light to' hold; Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled." A man pushes a cart full of mud down a narrow track, in a dark cave. Two other men carrying logs move out of his way. Inside the cave men are at work cutting at the rock. A man holding a candle inspects a chunk of rock, then discards it. He goes back to pushing his cart through a crowd of men and out into the sunshine. He looks down to see an injured bird on the tracks. He stops the cart and kneels down. He picks up the bird and holds its head to his lips. He smiles, and gripping it in his hand, continues to push the cart forwards. Another cart, coming the other way stops, and the man pushing it gestures at the bird. Suddenly it dissappears out of his hand. He stares menacingly at the other man. He jumps on him, wrestling him to the ground. A view from the ground of the thin bridge that theyre both fighting on. The first man throws the second off the bridge into the stream that runs below.
Title- "Such was McTeague." A cottage in the woodland, a sign above the door reads Cookhouse. A woman comes out to hang out her washing. Inside the cookhouse an old woman is busy. A close up of the clock, which reads twenty past six. The old woman sits down, exhausted, and fans herself with her apron. There are tears in her eyes. Title- "Such was Mother McTeague." A horse and carriage ride up to a busy saloon.Two women lean out of the window to watch the arrival of the cart. The man driving the carriage waves his hat, and two old women nudge each other, looking nervous. The man stops his cart, from which hangs a model of a tooth. He hands out flyers on which is written "Doctor 'Painless' Potter" Title- "Filled with the one idea of having her son enter a profession and rise in life…the chance came at once to Mother McTeague" A huge crowd gathers outside Mikes Saloon. Doctor Potter is extracting a mans tooth. Mother McTeague walks up hesitantly. McTeague watches the doctor work, laughing. His mother looks at him sadly. She watches the scene, imagining that it was her son that everyone was crowded around. Title- "His mothers ambition was fired…and Mac went away with the dentist to learn his profession" Mother McTeague, in black, sees them off, running after the carriage, stuffing her hankerchief in her mouth. Title-"Mac learned dentistry, after a fashion, through assisting the charlatan…and, years later, on Polk Street in San Francisco, 'Doc' McTeague was established" A busy street scene, trams roll past. Inside a small white room, a woman sits in a dentists chair. McTeague, in a white coat and visor, bends over her. The door flies open and a suited man waves and introduces a woman in black (Zasu Pitts). Title- "Have a seat Marcus" They sit down Title-"Trina, Mac's the strongest duck you ever seen-by damn!" He smiles, baring a fist. Mac leans over his patient. Marcus fiddles with his teeth. A woman dressed in a stripped skirt and pinifore moves briskly around the room, picking up towels. Marcus says to Trina-"That’s Maria…she keeps Macs place clean. She's cuckoo in the head." Maria struts over to them. Leaning over them, she asks-"Buy a ticket in the lottery?" Trina shakes her head. Marcus reaches into his pocket, pulling out some coins. Title- "Just a dollar." Marcus yells-"Go 'long with you! Lotteries is against the law!" Maria, looking down at them and waving her finger says-"The butcher in the next block won twenty dollars the last drawing." Marcus looks hesitant. Trina buys one, picking it from a bundle.
She holds it in her gloved hands, smiling, then folds it away into her purse. Macs patient gets up and walks out of the room. Marcus and Trina step forward. Title-"Mac, old pal. I wantcha to shake hands with my cousin Trina Sieppe. She's my sweetie" They look at one another hesitantly. Trina bows her head coyly. Close up of their hands moving together. He squeezes it tight. "Don't you hurt her too much, Mac" They look at one another. Marcus says "So long, Mac. I got to do some work yet…at the dog hospital" He walks out, looking back from the doorway he yells "Don't do anything I wouldn't do…you know" Trina, dressed in an ankle-length black dress and wide-brimmed hat, walks around the room and sits down in the dentists chair. She points to one of her teeth. Mac, looking down at her, nods and fixes a white cloth around her neck. He choses an implement from a tray by the chair and polishes it on his coat. He indictaes for her to take off her hat, under which an enormous length of hair is curled around her head. He bends down, looking into her mouth with a dentists mirror. She looks up at him nervously. "I guess I'll have to pull them three teeth and make you a bridge" She shakes her head vigorously, crying "Oh no. That will cost too much, won't it?" He scratches his head, straigtens his visor and takes another look in her mouth. Title- "For the first time in his life McTeague felt an inkling of ambition to please a woman" Mac straightens up and explains to Trina, illustrating it with his fingers, the operation he will perform. Title- "During the next two weeks, Trina was a daily patient" She is sat in the chair, surrounded by equipment, Mac is bent down. Suddenly, she pushes Mac away, holding a tissue to her mouth. He looks down at her, a confused expression on his face, then reaches for a jar from a shelf. Title-"Ether, not so dangerous as gas" She looks nervous, but he reassures her and puts her head back on the headrest.
Title-"So Mac administered the ether" Close up of Trina, who lies, he head wrapped in a white nunlike head dress, a mask covering her mouth. Macs hand pulls the mask away from her face. Her eyes are closed, she has a serine expression. Mac leans forward, slowly, watching her. He gets close to her face, then pulls himself away, clenching his fists and shaking. He puts his hands on her face and, using plyers, pulls out her teeth. Title-"But below the fine fabric bred of his mother, ran the fine stream of hereditory evil…the taint of generations given through his father" His eyes bulging, he kisses her. Close up of a bird hopping around inside its cage. He realizes what he has done and pulls at his hair. Title-"Terrified at his weakness- McTeague threw himself into his work with desperate energy- until he finished-" Trina unsteadily gets up from the chair. At that moment, Marcus bursts through the door blowing kisses. He jokes around to cheer up Trina, who smiles politely, pointing out the work Mac has done. Marcus cries-"Oh Mac's alright…by damn" and punches his arm playfully. Title-"Trina was to come no more" The couple march out of the door, arm in arm. Mac is left looking after them moodily "His dream was gone" He peers through the window, watching them cross a busy street and board a tram together, Marcus helping Trina in. The tram dissappears down the street. Title-"The following Sunday, Marcus took Mac to the Cliff House" On a curved road, with the sea in the background, rows of cars are parked and people stroll up and down. At the top of a flight of steps a sign reads 'Seal Rock Tea Gardens and Grill'. Inside, Mac and Marcus sit at a corner table smoking in silence. Mac looks disheveled. Marcus looking over, says "Whats the matter with you these days, Mac…huh? Mac stares into the distance and finally says "Its…its…Miss Sieppe" Marcus glares at Mac. "You mean…that you too…" They both breathe heavily, not knowing what to do. Mac cries out "Shes been the first girl I've ever known. I couldn't help myself" He starts shaking "I was so close to her"…"An' smelled her hair" The sea moves in the background "An' felt her breth" Marcus looks at him, outraged. Mac says sadly "Oh, you don't know" Marcus gets up slowly and looks out to sea, his brow furrowed. People bustle along the parade by the water. A shot of the sea rolling in.Marcus turns back to Mac "Well, what are we goin' to do 'bout it?" Mac looks helpless, he shrugs his shoulders. Marcus says "I'll give her up to you, old man"…"By damn"
He holds out his hands to Mac, who stands up unsteadliy. He grips Marcus' hands tightly. Marcus says firmly "Friends for life" adding, with tears rolling down his face "Or death" Mac, also crying, nods, saying "I'm...much…obliged, Marcus. I'm much…obliged!" The piano plays. Title-"Then with unselfish frienship for his 'pal', Marcus took Mac to Oakland the next Sunday…that he might again be with Trina and meet her folks." A train pulls up to a small station in a plain landscape. Waiting on the platform are a crowd of people. A man with an enormous moustache and a top hat decorated with feathers and an American flag, holding a shotgun, greets Marcus. "Mac, this is Trinas father." Mac shakes his hand, saying "Sure glad t'know ya Mr. Sieppe" Who yells "Mommer" and a well built lady in a hat comes forward to shake Macs hand. Marcus interupts to say "Doc shake hands with my cousin Selina" A girl in glasses and a school uniform grins and bobs. Mac then greets Trina, who chats and shows him her perfect teeth. There are three young boys, each carying an American flag. One wanders onto the train tracks and Mrs.Sieppe runs to pull him away as a train flies past. Trinas father arranges everyone in a line between two railway tracks. He shoulders his rifle and marches from front to back of the line, inspecting the 'troops'. He then takes his place at the front of the procession, and, seen from the front, he yells "Forward March." They all follow him in pairs. They arrive at a shooting range, seen from across the railway lines. They all gather at a doorway hung with American flags. Marcus turns around saying-"Here's where we shell out, Mac" And puts his hand out "Gimme four bits." Mac worriedly digs in his pockets and says in Marcus' ear "I ain't got no money with me…only a dime" He pulls his hand out of his pocket. Close up of his hand holding a coin. Marcus goes to the pay-window and the group move off, Mac and Trina talking together. They walk down a tree-lined passage, hung with flags. Title-"What a day that was for McTeague. What a never-to-be-forgotten day!"
A man in a striped shirt and flat cap calls to the crowd in front of a merry-go-round which starts moving slowly. Mac, Trina and Marcus, holding balloons, rock on toy horses as they spin around. Trinas father takes aim with his rifle. A target flashes in a field on top of a wooden shelf marked with numbers. He is obscured by a puff of smoke from his rifle. He looks across at a spinning score marker to see that he has won. He jumps in the air, laughing with his friends. Mac, Trina and Marcus spin around on the merry-go-round. Title-"Weeks passed and March rains put a stop to their picnics…but Mac saw Trina every Wednesday and Saturday" Trina, dressed in black, looks up as a train pulls into the station. The door opens and Mac climbs out in an overcoat and flat cap. They shake hands. They talk for a while and she says-"Lets go over and sit on the sewer" They wander over the train tracks together, away from the black station shack. They arrive at a long pathway of stone, cutting through a stretch of water. They reach a stone pillar, a train runs past in the distance. Close up of a round metal disc sunk into the top of the pillar. The train moves past to reveal a small village in the distance. They climb up to sit on the stone, the sea behind them. Mac undoes a round parcel he has carried with him. Inside is an accordian, he asks what she'd like to hear. She replies "Hearts and Flowers?" Mac shakes his head "No…but 'Nearer my God to Thee'" She nods and he begins to play. She watches his hands intently. Black clouds gather in the sky. Rain pours down on them. She puts up her umbrella and they rush into the station shed. Inside they shake themselves off, but soon an awkwardness comes over them. In the dark room, she fiddles with her umbrella while he struts around. Mac leans towards her-"Say Miss Trina, why can't us two get married?" She looks mortified, her eyes wide she stands up, flattening herself against the wall, shaking her head. Mac says "Why not. Dontcher like me well enough?" She chatters nervously, her hands busy at her coat. "Then why not?"
Avoiding his eyes she says "Because" Mac becomes insistant and grips her arm. She begins to panic and shakes her head. He grabs her tightly and kisses her forcefully. A train flies past, splashing in the rain. Trina, terrified, tries to fend off Mac, who holds her to him. Title-"First…chance had brought them face to face, now mysterious instincts, as ungovernable as the winds of the heavens, were knitting their lives together." Trina staggers through the doorway, looking disheveled. Mac puts his hands on her shoulders, gripping her. She pushes him away, shaking her head, she says sadly "Let me go alone…please" Mac stares ahead, miserable. She looks down, saying reluctantly "You may…you may come Sunday" He smiles and takes her hands. "Can't I kiss ya again?" She tears her hands away from his grip and opening her umbrella, she runs out into the rain. He steps out after her and stands, being soaked. A train flashes past behind him. He says to himself "I've got her! By God I've got her!" He runs back into the shack and, taking his accordian, he hails a train and climbs on board. Title- "Trina and Mac became engaged. The event was celebrated with a theatre party" Outside of a large theatre, a crowd moves about and cars pull up. Trina waits outside with her mother. Mac arrives from inside the theatre. Trina says wistfully-"I liked the lady best…who sang those sad songs" her mother looks at them both mischievously and says "I liked pest…der yodlers" and smiles to herself. Trina looks from her to Mac, who says excitedly "I liked best…the fellow who played 'Nearer My God to Thee' on the beer bottles" One of Trinas young brothers in an overcoat pulls at Mrs. Sieppes skirts, hopping from one foot to the other. She looks down at him, he reaches up and whispers in her ear. She cries "Pehave!" and leads him off. Trina and Mac follow. The outside of the theatre. Title-"And afterwards there was to be 'something to eat' at Macs dental parlours" The three of them, seen from above, climb the stairs to the parlour. Upstairs, people hear them coming and rush to greet them. A sinister bald man with a plaster on his cheek bows to Trina. They all look nervous as he tells her-"Your lottery ticket has won five thousand dollars" Her eyes grow wide and Mac and her mother, carrying newspaper wrapped parcels look concerned. Trina shakes her head saying "Oh, theres a mistake" But Maria steps forward and shows her a piece of paper. The bald man tells her "On presentation of your ticket…you will receive a check for five thousand dollars" Her mother cries out 'five thousand dollars', and Mac looks on menacingly. Trinas mother says "Vat efer vill you do mit all dose money,Trina?" Marcus, standing nearby cries out "Get married on it…for one thing." Mac look up at him.
Marcus spits on the floor and says "Can't we go to your parlours and celebrate?" Mac nods and leads the way into his rooms. The little boy pulls at his mothers skirts and she brushes him off. The all file into the parlours. Title-"The party ended late. Mac and Marcus gave up their rooms to Trina, 'Der Mommer' and little 'Owgooste'." The party comes to a halt and guests file out past a table filled with food and empty bottles. Everyone shakes hands and says farewell. In the kitchen, Maria wraps something up in a cloth, looking sinister. The last of the gusts leave and Mac and Trina are left alone. Maria is the last to leave, strutting out, laughing. The couple look around them. Trina grips Macs shirt front "Oh Mac, think of all the money coming to us…just at this moment." She smiles up at him and they kiss. Marcus walks through the door and looks Mac up and down saying "Come along Mac. We’ve gotta sleep with the dogs tonight, you know." Marcus and Mac leave, bidding Trina goodnight. She closes the door and, wringing her hands, walks to the bed. She lifts her face up to the heavens, and pulls back the bedclothes to reveal 'little Owgooste' asleep in his clothes. She sits down and begins to untie his shoe laces. Outside, Marcus and Mac open the door to Marcus' dog hospital. Trina, meanwhile, finds the winning lottery ticket in her handbag and looks into the distance dreamily. At the dog hospital, Marcus stands outside, his hat in his hands, glaring, while Mac, inside, gets ready for bed. "What a damn fool I was" He breathes heavily "If I'd 'a kept Trina, I'd a' had...five thousand bucks" He grimaces "Damn the luck" Title-"Trina and Mac were married a month later in the photographers rooms that Mac rented for their future home." Mac, standing in a suit and white gloves, holds a box containing a wedding ring in his hands. He is in the corner of a messy room, an old man sits on the bed. In the next room, guests have gathered and Mr.Sieppe hops from one place to another. Mac, looking nervous, stands at the door. In the next room, Mrs.Sieppe pokes her head through a stage curtain to talk to Mr.Sieppe, who takes out his watch and motions her to get on with the show. He goes over and gives instructions to his daughter, who is at the piano. Mac and the old man get themselves ready, outside, Mr.Sieppe gives instructions to a crowd gathered in the small room and struts off. Mac stumbles into the room. Mac and his best man stand side by side, shuffling into position, Marcus looks on. The clergyman meets Macs eye. Trinas sister at the piano bites her fist nervously as the curtain the bride is hiding behind ripples. She starts to play and the curtain flies open. Owgooste walks in front, carrying a large bunch of flowers. Trina and her father march behind. She wears flowers in her hair and a long train held up by the two little boys and followed by her mother. They stand beside Mac, the flower carriers at their feet. The vicar looks over the crowd. Mac looks at Trina nervously, who smiles back at him. The vicar prepares to speak. Marcus, with his arms crossed, glares at Mac. The vicar starts to speak, looking up to the heavens. Mac says 'I do'. Trina stands, facing the camera, holding an enormous bunch of white roses. She says 'I do'.
View from behind the father of the bride. The vicar speaks, his back to a bright window. Mac takes out the ring and puts it on Trinas finger. Her mother weeps into a hankerchief. Marcus watches angrily. The bride and groom kneel down. Seen from behind their heads, the vicar reads. On the road behind him, a crowd has gathered. Outside, a long funeral parade marches. Inside, the final part of the ceremony is under way. The mother of the bride sobs and signals to the flower boys who are chewing thir collars. Owgooste looks from his mother to the two boys and up to his father who glares down at him. The vicars ceremony comes to a climax and, seen from behind, Marcus' hands clasp one another in anger. Mrs. Sieppe cries into her hankerchief. The vicar comes to the finish and the couple stand up. He shakes both of their hands. Trina looks at Mac and bites her fist. He looks back at her, emotionless. Trina softens as she looks at her mother. She goes over to hug her. Marcus turns to shake her hand. Trinas sister congratulates her, as do the rest of the guests. Her father settles the bill. "And then they viewed the gifts" Trinas father holds up an oval painting of a sunset over water, which they both admire. Trinas sister grins grotesquely. The crowd mingles and the children play together. Mr.Sieppe picks up a box. Inside is a watch, with a card which reads 'From Marcus to Trina' (Close up) Mac whispers in Trinas ear, telling her that shes not seen the gift from him. Excited, he pushes past the other guests to the table full of parcels. He lifts up a bundle. He sets it down on the table and lifts off the cover. Underneath is a cage containing two birds. She smiles weakly, and is obviously dissappointed. Marcus looks over Macs shoulder to see the gift and sneers, spitting onto the floor. The little boys rush to the table to play with the birds. Their father shoos them away, but they come back. So he lifts them up in turn and spanks them.Title-"And then, for two full hours, they gorged themselves" Mac and Trina eating, pans out to a whole table of guests. Trinas father, with food all down his front, gnaws on an animal skull. He mops his brow with a napkin tucked into his shirt. Mrs.Sieppe also takes bites out of a skull, but she breaks off to scold the three boys who are fighting with their food. A fat man with a huge moustache stuffs food into his mouth, as do the rest of the guests. Even the vicar bites delicately at a bone. Marcus stands up to make a toast. Trina and Mac smile at each other.
Everyone around the table applauds Marcus. He says a few garbled words and drinks a full glass of wine. Trinas sister grins and claps wildly. Marcus asks for more wine and everyone talks around the table. "Then came the farewell" Trina says goodbye to her father, then, with tears in her eyes, hugs her mother. Trina looks around with wide eyes to see Mac watching her menacingly, smoking a pipe. Trina kisses the three boys and the family collect their things to leave. Before they go, mother goes to Mac and, kissing him says "Doktor…pe good to her! Pe fairy goot to her…von't you?" He nods solomnly. The father backons her out. Trina waves from the top of the stairs, but when she looks around to see Mac smoking his pipe menacingly in the doorway, she panics and runs down to grip her mother. But she says "Der's nuttin' to pe 'fraid oaf. Go to your husban'" Trina clings to her mother, but father Sieppe calls from the door and her mother bustles away. Trina waves from the stairs with tears in her eyes. Slowly, sobbing, with her head bent, Trina climbs the stairs, her gown drags behind her. She peers into the room. Where Mac has his back to her and is watching the caged birds. Trina looks at the imposing back of her husband and trembles. She looks at the birds and creeps down the hallway. She reaches a small room and pulls her long train in after her. Mac hears the door shutting and calls after her. She puts her hands to her mouth, terrified. He gets up and goes to find her. He puts his head around the door and she flattens herself against the far wall. He grabs her and kisses her. The birds flutter in the cage. Close up of her feet as she goes up on tip-toes. Pan out as she collapses on the bed, sobbing into her lap. Mac goes to draw the curtains. Title- "The early months of married life wrought changes. Since her lottery winning, Trina feared their good luck might lead to extravagance and her normal instinct for saving became a passion" View of a city. Crowds of people pour out of a church. Outside a woman is selling lilies from a basket. Trina walks up and sorts through to find the best. She looks in her purse, which is stuffed with coins and notes, and says "I haven't no small change, Mac" She looks at him craftily as he counts out his change. The outside of the church. Title-"For quite some time, McTeague had his eye on a little house…that they might be by themselves." The exterior of a small square house with a hedge and bay windows. They stand on the doorstep with a suited man in a bowler hat. They look around from the door, and ask the man questions. Suddenly, Trina takes Macs arm and leads him away down the steps. He asks her "What d'yer think?" She says "We can't afford such extravagance. Thirty-five dollars…and the water extra!" They walk on. Title- "In the new order of life, Trina reduced Macs visits to Frennas Saloon to one night a week." The exterior of Frennas Saloon. A bowler hatted man leans against the glass window. Indise Mac blows the head off his pint and drihks it down.
Marcus sits at a separate table, he gulps down a shot. Mac, finishing his drink, wipes his mouth and fills his pipe. Mac, on a table to the right fills his pipe, while Marcus, sat in front and to the left of Mac grimmaces and fiddles with a coaster. Eventually, he tuns around and says "Say Mac…when are you gonna pay me that money you owe me?" Mac looks up with a puzzled expression saying "Huh?Do…I…owe…you any money?" Marcus sneers and says "Well, you owe me four bits! I paid for you and Trina that day…at the picnic." Mac nods, saying "You oughta have told me before" and reaches into his purse. He tosses a coin onth the table, saying "I'm…I'm much obliged to you, Marcus" Marcus sneers and carries on-"And you never paid me for sleepin' in my dog hospital the night you was engaged either." Mac looks around-"Do you mean…I…shoulda paid for that, too?" Marcus replies-"Well…you'd a had to pay four bits for a bed anywheres!" Again, Mac nods and reaches into his purse, laying a coin on the table. Marcus, sneering, flips it into the air. Trina sits on a bed. She has three coins in her hand (close up) She looks at one closely and polishes it on her shawl. She holds it at arms length admiring it. She looks up and holds it tight. In the saloon, Marcus smokes a cigar moodily. Mac leans forward and saays-"What's the matter with you lately, Marcus. Is there somethin' Ive done?" Marcus flips the coaster franticly, then throws it across the room, saying "All I know is…that I've been soldiered out of my girl." He turns around to yell at Mac. "An out o' my money." View of the whole table Marcus is sitting at, three fat men sit around arguing. Marcus shouts "Do I get any o' them five thousand bucks from the lottery?" Mac leans forward, meeting his gaze. He shakes his head saying "It ain't mine to give " Marcus flails his arms at Mac. The three fat men look at him. Mac says "You're drunk!…that’s what you are!" and nods. The other men around the table nod in agreement. Marcus staggers up and hitting his chest says "Am I gonna get some o' that money?" He points at Mac, who shakes his head. He says "I'm through with you" He shoves Mac, whose pipe smashes on the floor. Mac stands up threateningly. The other men quickly separate them. A close up of Marcus' pocket, from which he pulls a knife. Mac stands talking to a man, shrugging. In a rage, Marcus throws the knife, but misses. Close up of Macs head, with the knife inches away. Customers grab Marcus and throw him out. Mac stands in a daze as people gather around him. Someone pulls the knife from the wall behind his head. Close up of his face. Close up of the smashed pipe. He reaches down. Everyone turns to see what he's doing. He shows the pipe and, shaking, bares his fist. "He broke my pipe" Two friends either side of him calm him down but he cries out "He can't make small o' me" Looking into his hand- "He broke my pipe" He puts on his coat and hat, ready to find him, but his friends hold him down. He pushes them both away and storms out of the saloon. His friends are left shaking their heads.
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