The Toll Gate (1920)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Traditional Western  |   Run Time - 59 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

William S. Hart added a bit more suspense and drama in this otherwise typical Hart western. The greatest western star of the mid 1910s, Hart again played a good-bad man reformed by his love for a righteous woman (Anna Q. Nilsson) and a young child, in this case, Nilsson's son (Richard Headrick). The villain is the woman's brutish husband (Joseph Singleton) who eventually gets the heave-ho (literally, over a cliff). What makes this western very unusual for its time (or any time, for that matter) is the lack of the traditional happy ending. Although pardoned by the sheriff for killing Singleton, Hart refuses to marry the widow despite their obvious love for one another because he deems himself unworthy after killing her husband. Critics have bemoaned such "Hart-isms," but the decision actually seems quite logical and understandable this time. This was the first film Hart made after leaving Thomas Ince and organizing his own production company. Leading lady Anna Q. Nilsson was Scandinavia's first gift to the American film industry. Arriving in New York as a domestic around 1905, the Swedish beauty rose to screen stardom in the early to mid-1910s without the benefit of a single acting lesson. Hollywood chronicler Adela Rogers St. Johns later termed the actress the screen's "only blond vamp."




outlaw [Western], abuse, cliff, faith, justice, love, redemption, widow/widower, husband, boy, child, mother, philanthropy