Film: 8390

Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W


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Railroad melodrama with Jean Arthur 1920's

Set in Winona, California. Old engine driver invents a new brake. He is colour blind and is given an eye test to keep his job. Railway shots. Story of younger villain train driver and the old driver's daughter.

Two pairs of hands holding cards move into view over a table, there are bottles of drink and food on the table, one pair of hands puts down its cards and turns upwards in a gesture. The hands belong to a man wearing a bow tie and jacket and glasses, Rosen, he is smoking and talking. Shot of the other man (Joe) replying. We see both men at the table, one is swigging from a bottle, there is a fireplace. The door opens and a young woman comes in and addresses the man drinking. "Daddy, the doorbell is ringing." Her father gets up from the table. Rosen shakes his head and swigs from his bottle. The woman stays at the open door. Rosen frowns. The woman tosses her head and leaves. Her father closes the front door, holding a package. He returns to the room. His daughter opens the door to the room and he gives her the package, she kisses him. He returns to sit at the table. He gestures for Rosen to pay him the money he owes him.

His daughter opens the door again and speaks. The men continue chatting. A boy with lots of freckles enters the room, wearing a jacket, bow tie and hat. He approaches the table, smiling, and removes his hat to give Joe a letter. Joe reads the paper with interest. The boy blinks and smiles. Rosen is eating fruit with a small knife. The letter says "Mr Joseph Ryan Winona, Calif. You are hereby ordered to report for the semi-annual physical and eye examination to be held at our office on July 13th. Yours very truly…Secy. For the Board". He folds up the letter. The boy looks sad. Rosen is still eating. "Don't cry Andy - you delivered the letter in time." Joe throws a coin in Andy's hat, Andy still looks miserable and leaves.

The men go back to their cards. A finger pushes a doorbell. Joe takes a swig of drink. The finger pushes the doorbell again. Joe holds the cards. His daughter opens the door and talks to him. He gets up from the table, Rosen holds out his hands in despair at this other interruption. The woman speaks to Rosen. "Gottin Himmel - did you promise someone you shouldn't open it a door?" They scowl at each other.

Joe and another younger man wearing a suit, Bert, come out of a room, Bert holds his hat in his hands and a book. "I'm fifth on the waiting list and when I'm promoted I'll ask Grace to marry me!" Joe replies "You have my permission providing Grace doesn't sidetrack you!" They carry on chatting then Grace appears. Bert shakes hands with her. Her father returns to his card game at the table, his friend gives him his winnings. Grace holds Bert's hat. Grace and Bert go over to a stand and examine a model. "I wonder if your Dad was thinking of us when he made this?!" She replies "No that's a section house -- another model Dad's added to his collection!" She points.

Outside the house, the man pulls Grace to him and they embrace. She sits down, he sits beside her.

Joe and Rosen are arguing over cards. "What's the idea maybe, you should call a heart a spade - can't you tell red when you see it?" They continue arguing and gesturing. Grace and Bert watch them from outside through an open window, laughing. Rosen over more money. Bert talks to Grace "If five engineers fail in the test tomorrow - you'll be Mrs Bert Steele!"

Joe sits alone at the table, looking at the cards and then at the letter, he looks worried. Grace and Bert watch him from outside. She gets up and goes inside, closing the door on Bert at the door. She goes to her father and looks back at the door. Bert looks in surreptitiously through the window. "and if I fail the color test they'll retire me". Grace puts her hands together, very worried. Bert is still listening at the window. Grace touches her father's head, trying to comfort him. Bert listens.

"The day of examination -- the annual battle between Youth and Old Age." Men wait outside an office by the railway. There is a medical cross on a building. Bert sits eating, wearing his railway uniform and cap. He watches Joe come out of the office. Shot of Rosen. Joe walks past a group of women playing cards. Close up of the cards. Joe walks away, looking concerned. Another shot of Rosen, watching. The women talk. "I sure hope Joe Ryan passes the test - he's a good scout." Rosen hears. Bert is still watching. A man in a suit shakes hand with a railway worker. Bert looks pleased. "Four men had failed and Bert's hopes were still running high." He looks expectant, he adjusts his collar. Rosen watches him, the freckled boy, Andy, is beside him, Rosen gets up, looking concerned. There is freight in the background.

The medical examination room, a man walks out and another walks in. A doctor is sitting at a desk, two other men are standing. The man steps outside the office, shaking his head to another man. Bert looks excited, still eating. Joe is in the room, sitting down for the sight test. His friend and Andy watch through the window. The doctor says "We'll give you the color test next". Joe looks worried. We see Rosen and Andy watching. Shots of the doctor and the apparatus. Joe answers a question. Rosen scratches his head. Grace sits at a table looking worried. She looks at her watch. Bert continues watching. Joe comes out of the office and shakes the hand of a man in railway uniform. Bert looks away in despair. Rosen comes up to him. "Vas you a smart liddle boy in school?" Joe puts his arm around him. "Yes I'm still at the head of the class thank you." They walk away together smiling, followed by other men. Bert looks devastated.

"With her father's train due, Grace wondered if the color tests had put another in his place." Grace looks through the telegraph office window at the train pulling into the station. She smiles at a black boy holding a dead rabbit. He then holds up another dead creature and she puts up her hands in disgust. A man walks up to her. Intertitle - "Fresh from college, Jack Milford had just arrived to take charge of the work on the new Lincoln Highway Bridge - Hugh Allan". They exchange smiles and she reads his telegram "Helen Dolan, Nixon, Ill. Very lonesome for you. Do wish you were here. Jack." After more making eyes at each other Jack says "I won't send this one - it would be a waste of money now." Grace smiles at him. He walks away. She calls him back. She asks him a question and he gives her a piece of paper. She takes it back. "If you're the census taker, I might say that I am a new resident in your town." A train approaches, Grace looks at it anxiously then is relieved to see Joe waving from the engineer's carriage. Grace waves back. Shot of Joe and another man in the carriage. Jack speaks to Grace and she replies "That was my father." He goes to speak to her at the office window, misses her and she appears at another window. Another train goes past, with Bert waving to her. She waves back. Bert waves again. Bert stands in the carriage with his hands in his pocket, looking disgruntled. Jack removes his hat and speaks to Grace again. "You're very popular - I suppose that was your step-father?" She looks away and replies "No-o-o just a friend of the family." She and Jack carry on chatting. Shot of Bert and the stoker in the railway carriage.

Intertitle - "As the days passed, Jack's visits to the Winona station were so frequent one would have thought he was studying telegraphy." Shots of Grace and Jack on the verandah, he is holding his hat, she is sitting on cases. "Gee, I wish you could drive out and see the new Lincoln Highway bridge I'm building." A man in a cap comes out of the office pushing a trolley. "I can't go now, but if you had asked me where I lived I'd say the blue house across the track." They laugh, he gestures with his hat. A train passes, Bert is standing on the train ledge, watching them. Grace waves to him. He waves back. She looks uncomfortable. He looks thoughtful. He shouts something to her. She cups her ear but can't hear. He shouts again, cupping his hand to his mouth. She still doesn't hear. Bert goes back inside the carriage, looking angry. Jack points to a scuffle on the station platform, the guard throws a man's luggage after him. The man is pushed onto the office verandah, he drops his cane. Two women follow off the train, wearing furs and elaborate hats. "The next time you ham actors want to beat your way, don't pick my train!" The woman replies "-and what's more, Big Boy, Mamma's been dropped off better rattlers than this one." The women walk off haughtily. Jack and Grace laugh.

Part Five
Intertitle - "As time passed, Ryan became more convinced of the merit of his invention."
Joe sips from his cup, he and Rosen sit eating at his table, he is wearing an apron, there is a coffee pot, bottle and plates of food on the table. " You're always working on that trick brake, when are you going to finish it?" "It looks as if I'll have to quit - I need about a thousand dollars and an engine to experiment with." "Oy! You started wid liddle toys -- now you must have it an engine, what next?" Joe looks thoughtful. "You'll be sorry some day, you didn't buy an interest in that brake." They continue their meal.

Jack and Grace stand at her garden gate, she is wearing a cloche hat, there are flowering bushes around them. "If you really care for me, I don't see why you still refuse to give me your answer". Grace looks down. "I mustn't desert father until his invention is proven a success." They go off together hand in hand. They enter the kitchen where Joe and Rosen are eating. Rosen raises his hat. Grace takes Jack over to the model. Joe demonstrates it. Rosen uses a toothpick. Jack says "From what Grace has told me, I have confidence in your idea and would like to buy an interest." They all look happy. Rosen looks thoughtful. Jack gives Joe a card. Rosen finshes his drink. Joe and Jack shake hands. "The sooner you complete your work, the sooner I can marry Grace." Joe looks from Grace to Jack, beaming. Rosen tosses down his napkin and leaves the table. Joe shows him the card.

Jack and Grace sit on the sofa. "That was kind of you and I'm sure you'll never regret it." He takes her hand. "Don't thank me, I'm lucky to get this opportunity." They look at each other. Rosen is not so impressed. "Buy brakes and go broke - soch a business. Good night!" Jack and Grace continue to sit on the sofa.

Intertitle - "While a cloud of despair hung over the Winona Station, Rosen had played a bit of office politics." Joe and Jack are at the telegraph office window, wearing suits and hats and looking pleased. Joe looks very excited as a train approaches. They leave the office to watch the train, it approaches with steam billowing. They greet the engineer and Rosen. "See, Joe, dere's a silver lining which I brought it out of a cloud." Joe takes Rosen by the shoulders and turns back to the others. He and Joe walked off with arms linked. In the office, Joe, Jack and Rosen look at the model. "The engine won't be any good unless I can get another five hundred." Rosen puts his chin in his hands. Joe covers the model and turns his back. An idea comes to Rosen. "You don't expect me to risk dot much money on such a foolishment, do you?" Joe shakes his head. Rosen smiles. "But, I will." Joe looks delighted and puts his hands on Rosen's shoulders. Jack walks over and pats them both on the back.

Film ends.

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