Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

"Wolves of the Rail"

Starring William S. Hart

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Vola Vale
Vola Vale. Click for more.

Future Newhall denizen William S. Hart directs and stars in another one of his "reformed bad man" melodramas for Artcraft: "Wolves of the Rail" (1918), featuring 20-year-old Vola Vale, 33 years his junior, as the love interest. In Hart's filmography, this picture followed "The Silent Man" (also co-starring Vale) and preceded "Blue Blazes Rawden."

Original-release lobby card, 8x10 inches, matte finish, heavy paper (cardstock weight). Standard size for lobby cards during the 1910s; in 1919 they switched to 11x14-inch buff-colored rag paper. It's not always easy to distinguish lobby cards of the 1910s from publicity photos intended for newspaper or magazine reproduction; this example has pinholes in its four corners, so we know it hung in a theater lobby.

"Wolves of the Rail" is a lost film. Like 76 percent of all movies of the Silent Era, it no longer exists. Advertising pieces such as this one (above), published exhibitor listings and movie reviews are all that survive.

About "Wolves of the Rail."

From Koszarski 1980:81

Produced by William S. Hart Productions; advertised as "supervised by Thomas H. Ince"; distributed by Paramount-Artcraft; released January 14, 1918; ©January 7, 1918; five reels.

Directed by William S. Hart; screenplay by Denison Clift from a story by William S. Hart; photographed by Joe August.

CAST: William S. Hart ("Buck" Andrade); Billy Elmer (Pablo Trilles); C. Norman Hammond (David Cassidy); Vola Vale (Faith Lawson); Thomas Kurihara (Pasquale Trilles); Melbourne MacDowell (Murray Lemantier); Fanny Midgley (Mrs. Andrade).

SYNOPSIS: The advent of the railroad forced Andrade to resort to road agenting for a living. On her deathbed, his mother learns of this [from Andrade's lieutenant Pablo Trilles] and exacts a promise from her son to live straight. Cassidy is sent West to capture Andrade dead or alive and thus stop the robbing of trains on that division. Cassidy meets Andrade while on the train. The train is held up and Andrade forces the gang to quit. Cassidy is wounded and carried to a former cabin owned by Andrade. The latter then returns as Cassidy to the district superintendent and begins the clean up of the line. He meets Faith Lawson and the two fall in love. He is given a large amount of money to protect. His old gang learns of this and makes an attack upon the station. The troop train is sent for but the bandits start a wild engine on the main track that would wreck the troop train. Andrade takes a short cut and stops the train. The troops are rushed to the town and the bandits dispersed. Cassidy returns and places Andrade under arrest.

The president of the road gives Andrade and the girl a chance to escape and also a check for services rendered. [Exhibitor's Trade Review, January 26, 1918]

REVIEWS: Who was it said melodrama had gone out of fashion? ... the healthy mind, regardless of age, will always respond to its red-blooded life, its jump and ginger and strong spice of play-acting which we all love; its unpolished but vigorous romance will remain part of the screen as long as human nature continues to be human. Wo/i;es of the Rail is genuine melodrama of the ride fast, shoot quick, fight hard and die game kind.

Fortunate Tom Sawyers and Huckleberry Finns of today! No longer must they hide in the haymow or behind the corn crib to read of bandits and their exploits, the hero who conquers them and other delightful persons equally reckless of their own and their neighbors' lives. The youth of the present can now form one of a family party and see it reproduced on the screen in a healthful real outdoor fashion. ... [Edward Weitzel, Moving Picture World, January 26, 1918]

Bill Hart has never been in finer feather than in this new Artcraft. If you have been comparing any of his late pictures with The Disciple, etc. or any other of the old boys, lay off the stuff. He's never done better than "Wolves of the Rail," only in it he's not a wolf. Boys, — he's a bear! You know Hart's style of work and you know how Tom Ince stages his productions. ... One could ask questions here and there about things that look like the old army frontier with a modern railroad and perhaps find oneself wrong, but those are just flies in the amber. ... [Wid's, January 17, 1918]

LW3763: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2020 by Leon Worden.
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