The Rocky Road (1910)

Melodrama | 3 January 1910

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HISTORY

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “A man (Wilfred Lucas) deserts his wife (Linda Arvidson) and daughter (Adele De Garde), goes off to a nearby city and becomes wealthy. Later, he meets his now-grown daughter (Blanche Sweet), and falls in love with her. He proposes marriage and she accepts, and they are about to be married when the mother, who has been out of her mind from the shock of her husband’s desertion, recovers her senses just in time to prevent the wedding. All scenes in the film were photographed from a single camera position; sets were used, as well as outdoor locations, or available buildings.”
       The 15 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A strongly dramatic film, representing what may occur through overindulgence in drink. The woman’s departure into the world with her little girl, the subsequent separation of the two and the child’s adoption by a farmer who discovered her by the roadside, the love-making of her own father and the beginning of the wedding, with the appearance of the mother in time to prevent it and her tragic death in her husband’s arms, are all strongly dramatic and are acted with strength and fidelity, but the ending is not happy, nor is it satisfactory. Justice may be, and probably is, inexorable in real life, but to have the picture end with the mother’s death just as the family is reunited is too tragic for an attractive motion picture, and this one would be improved for the average audience if the ending were changed. One doesn’t like to appear to find fault with the excellent work of the ... More Less

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “A man (Wilfred Lucas) deserts his wife (Linda Arvidson) and daughter (Adele De Garde), goes off to a nearby city and becomes wealthy. Later, he meets his now-grown daughter (Blanche Sweet), and falls in love with her. He proposes marriage and she accepts, and they are about to be married when the mother, who has been out of her mind from the shock of her husband’s desertion, recovers her senses just in time to prevent the wedding. All scenes in the film were photographed from a single camera position; sets were used, as well as outdoor locations, or available buildings.”
       The 15 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A strongly dramatic film, representing what may occur through overindulgence in drink. The woman’s departure into the world with her little girl, the subsequent separation of the two and the child’s adoption by a farmer who discovered her by the roadside, the love-making of her own father and the beginning of the wedding, with the appearance of the mother in time to prevent it and her tragic death in her husband’s arms, are all strongly dramatic and are acted with strength and fidelity, but the ending is not happy, nor is it satisfactory. Justice may be, and probably is, inexorable in real life, but to have the picture end with the mother’s death just as the family is reunited is too tragic for an attractive motion picture, and this one would be improved for the average audience if the ending were changed. One doesn’t like to appear to find fault with the excellent work of the Biograph Company, but in this instance the picture would be vastly improved for the average audience by the suggested change, while the dramatic force would not be injured. Perhaps its lesson, that life is indeed a rocky road for the transgressor, is impressed with sufficient strength to make it worth while.”
       Interiors were filmed at the Biograph studio at 11 East 14th Street in New York City.
       An advertisement in the 8 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World billed this film as “A Story of Fate’s Capriciousness.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BIOB2
p. 156.
BPL
pp. 122-123.
Cinema
1976
No. 36, pp. 14-17.
EMP
p. 277.
LCMP
p. 52, column 1.
LCPP
p. 213.
Moving Picture World
8 Jan 1910
p. 25ts, 26ta, 36tl.
Moving Picture World
15 Jan 1910
p. 57r.
NYDM
8 Jan 1910
p. 18ta.
The Daily Worker
p. 70.
Variety
8 Jan 1910
tr.
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 January 1910
Copyright Claimant:
Biograph Co.
Copyright Date:
6 January 1910
Copyright Number:
J136775
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
990
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“The truth of the expression, ‘It is a long lane that has no turning,’ has often been verified, but in this instance the road terminates in a cloud, the darkness of which is impenetrable. The story shows the relentlessness of justice and the cryptic prepollence of Providence. Coincident as the episodes may appear, they are evolved with a convincing consistency rarely found in dramatic stories of this type, making it, on the whole, one of the most heart-stirring and thrilling productions ever made by the Biograph. Ben Cook had been a man of intelligent energy, but meeting with reverses, went the way of so many others, that is, became addicted to drink. Falling lower and lower, we first see him a drunken loafer. In return for his wife's tearful entreaties he gives abuse, and finally desertion; leaving his native town for parts unknown. Landing in a strange village, he seeks and obtains employment in a sawmill, where he resolves to brace up. Meanwhile, his poor wife, learning from her husband's companions of his flight, becomes unbalanced in mind, and taking up her little three-year-old child, starts out in search of him. On she wanders, cold and hungry, meeting a kindhearted Italian on the way, who compassionately gives her an old shawl to wrap about the child. Further on she falls exhausted beside a haystack. Here the hallucination of hearing her husband’s voice calling seizes her and she leaves the child to go in answer to the imagined call. The child is found later by an old farmer, who adopts it. The poor woman staggers on until she falls helpless in the road. She is found by a benevolent couple ... +


“The truth of the expression, ‘It is a long lane that has no turning,’ has often been verified, but in this instance the road terminates in a cloud, the darkness of which is impenetrable. The story shows the relentlessness of justice and the cryptic prepollence of Providence. Coincident as the episodes may appear, they are evolved with a convincing consistency rarely found in dramatic stories of this type, making it, on the whole, one of the most heart-stirring and thrilling productions ever made by the Biograph. Ben Cook had been a man of intelligent energy, but meeting with reverses, went the way of so many others, that is, became addicted to drink. Falling lower and lower, we first see him a drunken loafer. In return for his wife's tearful entreaties he gives abuse, and finally desertion; leaving his native town for parts unknown. Landing in a strange village, he seeks and obtains employment in a sawmill, where he resolves to brace up. Meanwhile, his poor wife, learning from her husband's companions of his flight, becomes unbalanced in mind, and taking up her little three-year-old child, starts out in search of him. On she wanders, cold and hungry, meeting a kindhearted Italian on the way, who compassionately gives her an old shawl to wrap about the child. Further on she falls exhausted beside a haystack. Here the hallucination of hearing her husband’s voice calling seizes her and she leaves the child to go in answer to the imagined call. The child is found later by an old farmer, who adopts it. The poor woman staggers on until she falls helpless in the road. She is found by a benevolent couple who take her in and care for her, she performing light housework in return for their kindness. Years later Cook, through his close application to work, has become manager of the mill, and is enjoying the best of fortune. A search for his deserted wife has proved fruitless, hence he assumed her dead. One day while out in his auto, it becomes temporarily disabled, and he rests up at a farmhouse, where they are celebrating their daughter’s eighteenth birthday. The meeting with the daughter incurs mutual love at first sight. Later they are betrothed and the wedding day set. It is now the day of the wedding and Cook is speeding to the house to meet the wedding party when his machine passes the place where his wife has lived all these years. She recognizes him and dashes after him, but, of course, is far distanced. Continuing, she comes to the house shortly after the party, of which she knows nothing, has left. She asks for a drink, and while waiting sees her husband's picture in a frame on the table. To her queries the maid tells her in detail about the little foundling, the adoption, the birthday party, and now of the wedding, which may at this moment be taking place. It is for her the awakening. She realizes the horror of the situation, and asking the direction to the church dashes madly out, hailing a passing wagon, begs the man to drive in haste to it. The ceremony has just begun when she rushes in. Oh God! What a terrible revelation. She has just strength enough to make the truth clear when she falls into her husband’s arms dead. Thus, in a flash he is made to feel the weight of the hand of Divine Justice in the horror and mortification of the situation.”—8 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.