Thunderclap (1921)

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The makers of this picture culled just about every trick from all the famous melodramas of yore -- Drury Lane never had it so good (or bad!). Gambler Lionel Jamieson (J. Barney Sherry) is about as villainous as they come -he even uses his own daughter, Betty (Violet Mersereau), to attract suckers to his table. However, one of the workers there, Tommy (Paul Willis), is an honest young chap who really loves Betty. He also has a horse, Thunderclap, who he plans to enter in a race. Jamieson plots to bring about the horse's demise. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out that the horse escapes harm and wins its race. In addition, Tommy saves Betty from a gang of Chinamen who, for some nefarious reason or another, have kidnapped her. Jamieson ends as villains in melodramas often do -- he's killed, shot in the back. And the incredible plot twists aren't done yet -- Jamieson's wife (Mary Carr), who has been confined to a wheelchair for most of the film, is shocked into recovery by his death.

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Keywords

damsel-in-distress, dishwasher, horse, kidnapping, love, race/ethnicity, race-against-time, rescue