The Comeback (1917)


Moving Picture Weekly, February 17, 1917, page 9

J. Lowell Quackenboss

L. O. Pierson


L. M. Wells

Uncle Jimmy

George Berrill

"Crying Kid"

Jack Walters

First Citizen

Bud Osborne

Second Citizen

Pedro Leon

Third Citizen

Tom Grimes

BISON Two-Reel Drama, from a story by Charles E. Van Loan.  Scenario by Charles J. Wilson, Junion, and production by George Marshall.  Some of the staff of real cowboys and character men of Universal City are featured in this picture, which is without a star.

A CHARLES E. VAN LOAN story is sure to be a good one, and this Bison two-reeler was made by Charles Wilson, Jr., and George Marsall, from one of Van Loan's inimitable stories of the West.  "Opportunity in Optimo" the tale was called originally, and it was read and enjoyed by thousands in the pages of a popular magazine.

The picture is unique, in that is was produced without a star.  There is not even a "featured player."  The seven roles were played by some of the cowboys and the character men of Universal City, with the assistance of a very intelligent burro.  Of course, the cowboys of Universal City are a unusual lot, and prove the contention of the famous Western player, Harry Carey, who has so often appeared with them, that though actors do not make good cowboys, yet cowboys are often good actors.  The absolute naturalness of the work of these men in "The Comeback," their utter unconsciousness of the camera, shows that Carey knows what he is talking about.  Here is the story:

Optimo is a dead mining town, and the remaining six citizens gather at Cunningham's bar daily, where they have a drink and then went their way sorrowfully home.  This has been a habit with them for the past ten years.  One day, Quackenboss, a terderfoot from the East on a prospecting trip, arrives in the town and treats the population to a drink.  They notice his wad and plan to get it.  One of them discovers that he is a bug on faro.  They resurrect the old faro outfit and "frame up" a crooked game with Cunningham as dealer.  They give him their combined capital of two hundred dollars and await their victim. Uncle Jimmy, who is always broke and always wanting a drink, arrives in the town during the preparations and watches them fleece their victim. They invite him to help himself to a drink.  While the game progresses he indulges frequently, and becomes boisterous.  So they throw him out.  He is sore and waits outside until Quackenboss comes out after losing a thousand.  Uncle Jimmy tells him of the "frame up."  The old man outlines a plan to him.

Quackenboss goes on a prospecting trip and returns to the town tired and weary.  The citizens have planned another Faro game, but he explains that he is too tired to play, and asks them to look over some ore samples.  The majority of the stuff is no good, but suddenly they discover the real article in one of the samples and excitedly ask about it.  He explains that he has found a canyon full of it.  Cunningham quickly gets the others together and they persuade Quackenboss to sell them the claim for twelve hundred dollars.  The next day they all start out on a mad rush.  The only two who arrive at the canyon are Cunningham and one of the citizens.  Instead of the gold they find a note informing them that there are other skin games beside Faro.  In the meantime quackenboss has given Uncle Jimmy his share of the twelve hundred and ridden away, leaving Optimo much sadder but also much wiser for his visit.

with Leo Pearson, L.M. Wells, and George Berrill.  Directed by George Marshall.  Bison/Universal.

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Last Modified April 2, 2008.