The Block Signal (September 15, 1926)
Released on September 15, 1926: A railroad engineer is sabotaged by a scheming fireman and has a head-on crash with another train.
Produced by Earl Hudson
Directed by Frank O'Connor
Written by F. Oakley Crawford, Edward J. Meagher and Frank O'Connor
The Actors: Ralph Lewis (Jovial Joe Ryan), Jean Arthur (Grace Ryan), Hugh Allan (Jack Milford), George Chesebro (Bert Steele), Sidney Franklin (Roundhouse Rosen), Leon Holmes ('Unhandy' Andy), Missouri Royer (Jim Brennan)
Don't Thank Providence, Thank Daddy!
Jean Arthur . . . the whacky blonde secretary with the squeaky voice in the Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" . . . who could forget that voice and that actress? But this gal isn't just a pretty face with a unique voice . . . she acted for seven years in silent films, and this is a rare surviving example of her great talents on the silent screen. Jean Arthur is young Grace Ryan, who works at the telegraph office in Winona, and her daddy is a proud Railroad Engineer who is getting a bit old. Jovial Joe Ryan is starting to have trouble telling the green light in the block signal from the red light, and not honoring a red light means a head-on collision with an oncoming train. Now this is 1926, and there is no retirement income in America . . . you work till you die, and if you don't work, you don't get paid, so enjoying his elderly years in a rocking chair is not an option for Jovial Joe. Young Bert, played by George Chesebro, wants to become an Engineer in the worst way, and he will do anything to bump an engineer out of his job. One day Bert must be the fireman for Jovial Joe, and when Joe asks Bert to watch the block signals with him to help him see them correctly, Bert spots a red signal but tells Joe that it is green - full speed ahead! Bert jumps off the train just before the collision with an oncoming locomotive, and while Jovial Joe survives the crash he is demoted from being an Engineer and Bert takes his place. Ahhh, but Karma can be a just judge . . . . Before our railroad ride is over Bert will be heading for a collision in Old Betsy, the same engine that he sabotaged for Jovial Joe, but this time things will be different, because Jovial Joe isn't as dumb as one might think, and the surprise is on Bert, and us. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it, grab your train Engineer's cap and enjoy the show.
George Chesebro and Ralph Lewis
George Chesebro as Engineer Bert Steele
Hugh Allan courts Jean Arthur
Jean Arthur and George Chesebro
Jean Arthur and Hugh Allan
Jean Arthur, Ralph Lewis and Hugh Allan
Jean Arthur and Ralph Lewis
Jean Arthur in 1926
Ralph Lewis and Sidney Franklin
Ralph Lewis as Jovial Joe