Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Railway melodrama with nasty driver and chase with pump trolley.
Very brief shot of older man (Joe, the engineer) wearing a cap, standing by train door. Two younger men wearing overalls are talking and gesturing. "I'm only five from the top now, Brennan - -I ought to get my engine soon!" They carry on talking. The older man wipes his hands on a rag and laughs "Atta boy, Bert - but when you make the grade don't pick my engine, 'Old Betsy'!" He carries on wiping his hands. The older man is standing on the edge of the entrance to the driver's carriage, the other two men are standing on the ground, one of them steps up onto the steps leading to the carriage, then the older man gestures so he gets down again and lets the older man step down, the letters "T & S" are painted on the side of the engine, steam is coming out of the train, another man passes by. Bert jumps up the steps and turns to the others. The older man (Joe) talks to him. He answers then gets into the driver's seat. The other two continue speaking: "Steele certainly is crazy to get an engine! He'd do anything to push his promotion!" They carry on talking. Steele sits in the driver's seat with his arms folded, looking very pleased with himself and looks out of the window.
The other two men point at a man carrying a large notebook, he is wearing overalls and a hat and glasses and bow tie and is wagging his finger at a boy, who is wearing a hat and dungarees with no shirt, he is holding a bucket and looking nervous. The men look up at the train. "I'm not sure Bert, you'd better call her up!" Steele slides down the steps and runs off. The boy approaches the men and gives Joe a rag, the man pretends to hit him then laughs. The man with the notebook, Rosen, watches and laughs. Joe puts his arm around the boy and walks him over to where Rosen is standing in front of a cart with other men, he gives the boy some money, pats him on the head and sends him away, then turns to Rosen "I suppose you'll be down for your regular licking at pinochle tonight?" He replies "You should beat me! As a pinochle player you're a good engineer." Joe replies. They continue their conversation then Joe wanders off.
Bert Steele is on the telephone outside. A man in a railway uniform, smoking a pipe and wearing a cap is talking on the phone in his office, we see him through the window. He replaces the phone and speaks to a woman in the office, she is wearing a visor and comes to the phone by the window. "Grace Ryan - one reason why all engines stopped for water at Winona - Jean Arthur". Grace sits chatting on the phone, smiling, there is a vase of flowers beside her, she is wearing a gingham dress or blouse. The train driver chats on the outside telephone. The station master leaves the office and a young black boy with a dog on a lead stops outside and takes off his hat. Grace holds the receiver to her chest when she sees the boy. "Would you all care to buy a val'able dog, Miss?" She talks to the boy. Bert, on the phone, looks puzzled. She smiles at the boy. "How thoughtful of you, Honey - but not today, thanks!" She smiles again. Bert looks at the receiver, still confused. Close up of boy. "His name's Elgin - he's a watch dorg! Grace looks at the boy. "No, dear, not now - see me tomorrow." Bert looks confused and asks her what's happening. She suddenly realises the reason for his confusion. "I was only speaking to 'Inkspot' who's trying to sell his dog." Bert looks relieved. She smiles. "Why, of course, Bert, you may come over tonight." Bert looks pleased and hangs up. Grace looks happy and sighs, smiling to herself contentedly.
"Three hours later." Shot of Joe laying underneath the engine, fixing it. His friend Rosen is sitting down near the engine, eating an apple. A woman wearing a hat is sitting near the engine, the engineer emerges from under the engine, another man wearing a hat helps him. The boy with the dog comes up to the man who's eating. "You'd better buy Elgin, before I boost de price!" Rosen shakes his head. "I couldn't even buy it one of his fleas - - everything's in dot brake." He offers the boy a taste of the apple, takes it back then gives it to the boy who smiles and takes it and goes off eating it.
Joe indicates the brake to the watching man and woman, his daughter Grace and Jack. Shot of the brake. He tells them "It'll be ready in a day or two for a trial run." He talks to the man. His friend sitting down nearby beckons him over. He goes over to him. "I always told it to you, Joe, dot that brake would be a success." Joe sits beside him, still holding one of his tools. Jack and Grace embrace and kiss. The two watching men look on fondly, the man in the bow tie points at the couple. The woman looks slightly embarassed. Rosen puts his hand on the other's shoulder. The scene fades.
"There was another in Winona well versed in the art of pulling railroad strings." Bert Steele comes out of an office holding a piece of paper, another man outside (Brennan?) is standing by a ladder. A portly man wearing a bowler hat, waistcoat and tie and smoking a cigar talks to the man by the ladder. "I've never liked Steele since that wreck that bounced him into the engineer's seat in the cab." They carry on talking. "I've always felt he caused poor Joe to loose his run and someday he's going to pay." The man in the bowler hat looks as though this information has given him an idea, he gives the man a cigar, takes another puff of his own and looks thoughtfully after Bert.
Joe, wearing a jacket and hat reads a piece of paper, looking concerned. The paper reads "You are hereby ordered to immediately turn Old Betsy over to engineer Bert Steele for active service. J B Perkins." Joe finishes reading the letter, looking thoughtful, and folds it up. The couple who were by the train are holding hands outside a shed, watching him. They look upset and worried. He walks over to them, the woman, his daughter, puts her hands on his shoulders as though asking him something.
Bert is driving the train, smoking a cigar, wearing a stripey jacket and matching hat. The train approaches the shed, the couple and Joe watch the train approach and stop. Bert comes down the steps and sits down. "I suppose you know why I'm here. I'm ordered to return your old engine to the yards." Joe stands listening.
A cart passes, revealing a stout woman with her hands on her hips and a boy. Joe and another man are talking in an office. "I can't make a test without an engine". Rosen drives a car though the countryside, the roof blows off the car. The two men in the office look worried. The car drives faster. A square, people are crossing it. The man in the bowler hat beckons Steele. "The Directors' Special is coming in, Steele - and you're slated to haul it as far as Mayfield." Steele replies "My engine's in the shop and they can't get it out in time." The man replies "There's Ryan's old engine - - she's been tuned up - take her." Steele looks worried. "Old Betsy's' a jinx - I hate to take her out." Rosen doesn't accept this, and walks off. A boy sitting on the steps "Here Mista' Oil Can, your twin brother would like to take a ride." Steele goes up to Old Betsy as a jet of steam comes out. He climbs into the carriage.
The car stops. Rosen gets out, still holding the steering wheel. He rushes up steps to where Joe is sitting on a veranda. "Dumbpell! For why did you let dot blockhead take 'Betsy'?" Joe explains. Rosen gestures in despair.
Steele is driving the train. The other man is in the carriage. Steele kicks out. He shouts at the other man and is driving the train very violently. "I don't see how you ever got an engine - Ryan never handled 'Betsy' like this." Steele turns on him. "And who asked you for any advice?" Steele punches him and they start to fight, then fall to the floor, still fighting. The train steams on. They are still fighting. The train carries on, driverless. It passes a Danger signal. The train steams on, past buildings. Now the men are fighting on the roof of the train. The operator sees the train go past the station and operates a signal and rushes inside. The girl in the office is talking to a man. She picks up the message from the operator. "The Kenyon operator says a special is running wild - and No. 8 is due in twenty minutes!" The men are still fighting on the roof of the train. The man in the office looks worried. The girl runs from the office, followed by the man. The fighting men go back down the steps from the roof of the train. The girl runs to Joe and the man in the bowtie. "If dot's a special, Old Betsy is hauling her - dere is no odder engine in the yards!" Joe has an idea. "If we can beat her to the Loma block, my automatic break on 'Betsy' will prevent the crash." The girl points to the pump trolley. The men are still fighting on the train. The girl, Joe and two other men climb onto the pump trolley. "By taking the Loma cut-off we'll save six miles."The fight continues. The pump trolley moves into action. Speeding countryside. View of the pump trolley. The train is still speeding along the track. They pump faster. Steele is now repeatedly punching the other man in the face. The train goes around a bend. More fighting. The pump trolley races along. Speeding train. Pump trolley. Fight. Train. Pump trolley.
"No. 8 with a hundred souls aboard - - plunging on with no warning of its fate." Various alternate shots of the fight, the pump trolley and the speeding train. The pump trolley comes to a halt. Joe orders "Jack, you flag No. 8!" Various shots of the speeding train and the fight. Jack stands on the track waving a flag furiously to warn the train. Joe works on the track. The driver of the No. 8 sees the warning and pulls the brake. Rosen covers his eyes. The two trains stop only yards from each other. "From der beginning I told you it vould vork - it did, didn't it?" The couple rush to the train. Other people appear as the men emerge from Old Betsy, still fighting. Men in suits and bowlers look alarmed. The other man throws Steele on the ground in front of Joe and the girl. " I choked a confession outta him Joe - it was giving you the wrong signal that caused the wreck." Joe goes to hit him then thinks better of it. Steele is marched off. The men in suits talk. "Isn't that Ryan who faced the enquiry board a little while back?" They notice the brake and call Joe over. "Providence certainly was with us that time - what stopped the train?" "Why, ah, I-I- it was my - - " "Don't thank Providence, thank Daddy!"
Rosen explains. "After years of experimentation, we invented - - "
"I mean - well, I helped just a little" One of the men wearing a suit talks to Joe. "This road has been searching for such a safety device - we'd like to make you an offer."
Joe looks pleased. "I knew that Time would clear my record. I'm ready to discuss your proposition."
The couple embrace. The End.
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