Scoffer (1920)

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Much of this Allan Dwan-directed drama was distasteful to silent movie-era audiences. In this more religious time, no one wanted to believe that unfortunate circumstances could turn a pious man away from his faith. In addition, they questioned whether it was right to have an abortionist as a prominent character in a film. Dr. Stannard Wayne (James Kirkwood) -- like all "good" men of the times -- is a God-fearing soul. He marries the former mistress of his friend, Dr. Arthur Richards (Philo McCullough), without knowing her past. Richards, an abortionist, resumes his affair with the woman and runs off with her. But before he leaves, he frames Wayne for one of the illegal operations he has done, and the innocent man is sent to prison for five years. When he gets out, Wayne has become angry and cynical. He turns away from religion and swears never to help another suffering soul. He heads for the wilderness of the Northwest where, unbeknownst to him, Richards and his ex-wife are hiding. The pretty, good-hearted Margaret Haddon (Mary Thurman) also lives there, and she tries to get Wayne to help a young boy who has become crippled after a beating by his drunken father. Wayne callously refuses, but Margaret's sweet nature finally turns him around and his faith is restored. While he is operating on the boy, Richards gathers a mob by convincing them that Wayne is butchering the little boy. The mob destroys the home and sets it on fire, but Wayne completes the delicate operation by the light of the blaze.

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Keywords

bad-guy-turns-good, criminal, false-accusation, imprisonment, rival, surgery