The Crooked Road
This copy linked to "Archival Videos" comes from the Library of Congress.
The Moving Picture World (July 08, 1916). A Knickerbocker Star Feature. Distributed by General Film Company. Released July 07, 1916. Three reels. Cast: Dave Fenton (Henry King); Nellie (Katherine Burke); Blanche (Jimsy Maye); Slinky Joe (Charles Dudley); Nellie’s Mother (Mollie McConnell); Clancy (Don Bailey); Baker (Jim Warner). Directed by H. M. and E. D. Horkheimer. Photography: Joseph Brotherton.
Summary: Blind to the finer things of life, Dave Fenton holds away as the leader of the gang. His companion, Blanche, a shop girl, chafes under Dave’s inability to make a big haul. She urges him into a further life of degradation. Nellie, an invalid, confined to a wheel chair, sells newspapers to add to the fund she and her mother are saving for the day when they can go to the country. Dave does her a slight service from which springs an intimate friendship.
One night Slinky Joe, one of Dave’s gangsters, hears Nell and her mother counting over their little horde of money. He reports to the gang and they plan a raid. Led by Dave they find the hidden savings, but when Dave discovers that it is Nell he is robbing he turns against his companions and after a fight, drives them from the place. Nell makes him see to what end his present mode of life is leading to and he leaves the gang and finds honest work.
Blanche, realizing that through Nell she has lost Dave, plans to get even. Slinky tells her of the saving and this Blanche steals. Nell is prostrated over the loss and Dave, believing that some of the gang are responsible, assures Nell that he will get her savings for her. From Slinky he forces a confession that Blanche is the guilty one. He goes to Blanche’s room and finds her gone, she having left town after her theft. Dave is ashamed to admit to Nell that he has failed and when Clancy, a ward heeler, offers him a chance to make some easy money, he takes it, sending the money to Nell as if it were her money that he recovered.
Nell learns of his intended sacrifice for her. Knowing that should he be allowed to go through with his plans for Clancy he will be lost to her, Nell returns the money to Clancy. Dave’s regeneration is complete through the discovery of Nell’s great love. So great has it proved, in fact, that the moment Nell thought Dave was in danger her love triumphed over her weakness and she walked unaided. Blanche repents of her act and returns the stolen money. She is forgiven and finds her regeneration in the arms of her country lover. With murk of the city far behind Nell and Dave work midst the flowers whither Nell’s dream has led them.
Commentary: The Moving Picture World (July 01, 1916): “The Crooked Road,” featuring Henry King, is the Knickerbocker Star three-reel release. It is an unusual story of the tenements, centering about the activities of a gang. For the exterior scenes Mr. King and his company went up to San Francisco and camped out for a couple of days in the Barbary Coast quarter of the city. A remarkable feature of these scenes is the indifference of the slum dwellers to the camera. They refused to be constrained in their movements, and in several scenes crossed the background about their business, lending an unforeseen touch of realism.