Beyond the Law (1918)

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As the 19th century entered its last decade, the Dalton brothers were some of the era's most notorious outlaws. During a fierce shoot-out in 1892, all of them were killed with the exception of Emmett Dalton, who was given a life sentence. It was commuted after seven years, however, and in 1918, he brought the story of his family to the screen. According to Dalton, he and his brothers were all law-abiding government workers until they discovered that a Marshall working over them was corrupt. So in the film they quit and go to New Mexico where Bob Dalton is the victim of a crooked roulette wheel. The brothers make off with all the loot and become criminals. They graduate to train and bank robberies until the Coffeyville, Kansas shoot-out puts an end to their wicked ways. Emmett Dalton is jailed, but through the efforts of his mother (Ida Pardee) and fiancee Ruth Lane (Virginia Lee), he is finally pardoned. Emmett Dalton appears as his older brothers Frank and Bob and as the latter-day version of himself (Harris Gordon portrays him as a young man). The premise of this picture, with the appearance of one living member of the Dalton gang, should have made it an easy sell, but apparently the producing company (Southern Feature Film) put too high a price on it. Although it was finished by late 1918, there were no takers for many weeks, and it finally limped into theaters during the spring of 1919.