US / 14 minutes / bw silent / Thanhouser, Mutual Dir: Edwin Thanhouser, Lawrence Marston Pr: Edwin Thanhouser Cast: William Garwood, Marie Eline, Florence LaBadie, Riley Chamberlin.
This interesting little one-reeler—a thematic precursor of, among other movies of noirish interest, items like Close-Up (1948) and BLOWUP (1966)—was lost until 1999, when a copy was found on the projection-room floor of a cinema in Montana. In 2001 it was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.
Crooked broker Henry Watson (Garwood) receives an ultimatum from his client Mrs. Caroline Livingston (uncredited): return the $20,000’s worth of her bonds that he holds or face criminal proceedings. He cooks up a swinish plot, filling one envelope in private with torn-up newspaper and another, identical envelope in front of his clerk (Chamberlin) and secretary (uncredited) with Mrs. Livingston’s bonds. He then has the clerk call a messenger to take the envelope to Mrs. Livingston.
Watson (William Garwood) schemes . . .
We’ve already learned that the extremely youthful messenger boy (Eline, in fact a girl) has a big sister (LaBadie) who works at a movie studio—circumstantial evidence later suggests it’s the Thanhouser studio. As he strolls through the streets to his destination, the boy pauses to watch a movie crew at work filming a group of actors. At this point Watson approaches, “accidentally” knocks the boy to the ground and, under cover of helping him up, swaps the real envelope for the dummy.