Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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The King's Highway.
Highwayman drama. 18th century costume drama.
Running horses's hooves. Back projection behind a highwayman riding a horse. The highwayman with his lover, a woman in a long ringlet wig, holding a handkerchief. He is Paul Clifford. Men drinking in a tavern with a woman sitting on a table looking up at them.
Flashback to his youth. A poster for The Beggar's Opera…Miss in Her Teens. A large cast on a theatre stage and view of the audience. Close up of members of the audience talking and gesticulating at the stage. The performance on stage. Women in the audience gesturing and shouting. Actors and actresses acting on stage. The actors dancing around a maypole with ribbons. A boy (Paul Clifford) and a woman in the audience clap along with the rest of the audience. The curtain goes down, rear view of the audience applauding. The woman and Paul move to leave the theatre. People coming out of the theatre, past pillars and onto the street. In the crowd, a hand steals a man's watch. The man shouts that the boy has stolen it. The woman with Paul tries to physically defend him. There is a scuffle. Paul is thrown onto the straw-covered floor of a prison cell, there are several other people in the cell. He looks around at the prisoners standing around the walls, they stare back at him. He looks frightened. One man is manacled to the wall. He protests that he is not a thief. He struggles with the guards.
00:04:30. He is thrown into the arms of a gentleman (Nathaniel) who has been imprisoned for debt. The man listens to him sympathetically. Paul vows to become a criminal as he has been unfairly accused of being one.
Three figures on horseback stand on a heath or moor. View of the three men from the front. They are Paul, Nathaniel and Old Baggs, all three are highwaymen. Paul points. A lone rider comes towards them. They plan to rob him. Paul removes his eye mask. They ride towards the man, Squire Brandon. The Squire is approached by Old Baggs and Nathaniel and held at gunpoint and hands over his valuables. Paul approaches on his horse and chases the others, then returns to the Squire. The Squire asks Paul to accompany him home.
00:06:58. The two approach the Squire's house, a large timber framed house. They ride to the stables at the back and are met by a groom. They shake hands. Paul stares away for a few moments. A young woman is sitting with her back to us. She stands up and turns around, she is carrying a basket. Paul stares at her. The Squire introduces her as his daughter, Lucy. The men look at her. She looks at them, almost smiling. They walk around the garden to meet her. She curtsies to Paul. He bows, holding his tricorn hat. He looks at her. She hugs her father. She thanks Paul for helping her father. She curtsies again, they gaze at each other. Nathaniel and Old Baggs appear on horseback behind a wall. Close up of Lucy. The other two see what is happening from over the wall, they laugh. Paul sees them. He bows again, Lucy curtsies, Paul leaves. Father and daughter walk towards the house. Paul is met by the groom and rides away.
00:10:06. He rides past farm buildings and animals and gallops off. He sits on horseback with the other two. Nathaniel throws him the Squire's purse...
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