The Patriot (1916)

Genres - Action, Western  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A veteran of the Spanish-American War and a proud patriot, Bob Wiley (William S. Hart) finds himself swindled out of a fortune by a corrupt local politician. Hart's Wiley goes to Washington to complain but proves unsuccessful. Returning to the homestead, he finds his little son (Georgie, later George E. Stone) murdered and his heart fills with bitterness towards the country he once loved. Joining up with Mexican General Zapilla's forces, Wiley becomes a spy and misdirects the American forces into an ambush. The enormity of his betrayal slowly dawning on him, Wiley manages to save the local town from the Mexican usurpers, pledges allegiance to the flag and becomes once again a patriotic American. Only William S. Hart could get away with an overbaked plot like this, and only this early in his career. Most reviewers, however, bought the story. "It is probably the best thing Hart has done, and the entire production is of high quality," opined Louis Reeves Harrison in the influential Moving Picture World. A couple of names in the supporting cast stand out: Francis Carpenter, a blond child star very popular at the time, here playing a child who reminds the hero of what he has lost, and, further down the list, British-born character actor Percy Dempsey Tabler, who later played a rather unlikely Tarzan in the serial The Son of Tarzan (1920).

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Keywords

America, attack, boy, craziness, death, Eastern-US, grief, home, Mexico, mine, orphan, outlaw [Western], pride, settler, son, struggle