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1916, Eyes

1919, Shepherd
1924, Man
1924, Mine
1925, Son Father 
1925. Brian K
1926, Barb W
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1935, When Man
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The Mine with the Iron Door -- 1924


Click on Picture to Enlarge

irondoor1924arcadecard.jpg (24616 bytes) Arcade card courtesy Rick Gunter

Movies: Wright's Greatest Sorrow

Click here to read the story:

  • How and why Wright got into the movie business

  • Which movies were actually based on his stories

  • Which were based on stories he had never even seen and quickly despised.

 

Postcard of Charles Murray. eb

 

Reviews: The one review I have seen, in Variety, is perhaps the most positive of any of Wright's movies.  After noting that the title suggests just another mediocre western, the critic says, ". . .the plot has dignity, drama, romantic interest and a definite appeal. When melodrama enters the picture it is true melodrama and grips because it carries the suggestion of reality.

The critic goes into unusual detail describing the plot:  "The story opens in the desert showing two old prospectors.  Out of water, they come upon a cabin and seek to replenish their supply.  At the cabin, and in the custody of an old woman, they discover a white child.   Previously we have seen a villainous character, Sonora Jack, leave after admonishing the woman to take good care of the youngster as some day she would bring much gold.  The prospectors take this child by force because it is white and proceed to raise it as their own.  Due to the child they decide to quit their meanderings and settle down.  The girl grows to womanhood.  She is taught the rudiments of an education by a young physician neighbor, out there because of his health and known as 'Saint Jimmy.'

"About this time is made known that a legend persists in the Arizona country of the existence of a mine with an iron door which had been the property of padres. Into this situation comes the hero, who says he is a prospector. He meets the girl. Later it is discovered this youth is a fugitive convict. Meanwhile the old prospectors inject much comedy through their desire but lack of courage to tell the girl her real origin. A renegade, who would marry her, when spurned finally tells her and the girl feels her humiliation so keenly she attempts to go away. She is caught in the path of a terrific storm, and saved from death by an educated Indian who has left the white man's school and gone back to the land of his people. This Indian cherishes a latent hatred of whites. He brings the girl back. Later he learns the identity of the convict-prospector and threatens to turn him over to the sheriff unless the white man comes with him. He compels the white man to share his cabin in the hills and there search for gold, and finds satisfaction in his suffering. Eventually Sonora Jack and his gang get information that leads them to believe the Indian knows the secret of the lost mine. They capture him and try to force him to divulge, resorting to torture.

"The Indian knows the location, as he has led his captive blindfolded into the mine, laughed at him and then led him back again.  The young convict-prospector is instrumental in saving the Indian, much to the latter's surprise. In gratitude the Indian takes the white man back to the mine and permits him to gather all the gold he can carry away. In the meantime, Sonora Jack and his gang learn of the white girl's identity and come to recapture her. In the fight that ensues one of her prospector protectors is killed and the other badly wounded. The outlaws are traced by the Indian and the young convict-prospector. The Indian stages a sensational knife fight with Sonora Jack and slays him, the youth eventually is cleared of the crime for which he was sent to prison, and the lovers are brought together.

"This may sound melodramatic, but in the telling there is much skill of direction and artistry in the unfolding."

Another review of this movie appeared in Film Daily, December 21, 1924, but I have not yet obtained a copy.

Release:  Principal Pictures, Sol Lesser presents

Production: Sol Lesser

Director:  Sam Wood

Writing/Screenplay: From Harold Bell Wright's novel by same name.

Characters Actors
Marta Hillgrove Dorothy McKale
Tad Grove Burt Woodruff
Dod Hill [?] Charles Murray
Natachee Bob Fraser
Hugh Edwards Pat O'Malley
"The Lizard" Raymond Hatton
"St. Jimmy" Creighton Hale
Sonora Jack Mitchell Lewis
St. Jimmy's mother Mary Carr
Chico William Collier, Jr.
The Sheriff Clarence Burton

Availability: This movie was shown at the restored Rialto theater in Tucson, Arizona on October 8 and 10, 2010. The announcement for this rare screening included this note: "Only ten percent of silent films have survived and The Mine with the Iron Door was thought to have been one of these lost cinema treasures. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation successfully tracked down two surviving prints in Moscow, Russia, and Paris, France. The copy of the film to be presented has been digitally restored and loaned by the "CNC - Archives françaises du film."

Before the copy was discovered in France, the Oracle [Arizona] Historical Society provided this information: "There is one existing copy of this film in the Russian Film Archives in Moscow. The film was in the soviet distribution in the 1920s and a print of it has been preserved. The print is of 7 reels, 1685 meters long, but it lacks initial titles and the word "end". A print of the picture on 35 mm film can be made for the price of $1,685 plus freight cost for shipping from Moscow."


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