Billy's Stratagem (1912)

  |  Short, Drama


While their mother is away from home, Billy and his sister are set upon by marauding Indians, who trap them in their cabin. Billy rigs a keg of gunpowder and tricks the Indians into ... See full summary »


4.8/10
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11 September 2016 | deickemeyer
The spectators gave it more marked approval than any other release shown for several days
A picture that surely gets over. The spectators gave it more marked approval than any other release shown for several days. It is an Indian picture; but such, when well produced, is not to be despised and this, besides its exciting action on the elemental plane, has interesting psychology and other good things. It is full of little actions that seem, in the atmosphere of the picture, to carry straight home, to be the truth. Plainly it was planned by someone who was willing to take pains to be sincere. The most interesting roles in the picture are Billy, aged about ten, and his sister, about five. It is they who are in danger from the Indians and their escape, the result of Billy's stratagem, is convincing enough even for the critical. The picture opens with a few convincing sketches of frontier life, the log cabin, the father and mother, a doddering old grandfather and the two children. The boy's plaything is a gun; the children's best game is "the hunt." The father is then shown as out at work in the forest. The mother gets dinner for the children and the old man and then takes her husband's noonday meal to him. After dinner the children play hunt and have wandered a hundred yards or more from the door where the old grandsire sits asleep. The Indians come. The children hardly have time to get back. The old man, wakened suddenly, loses his wits and falls in a coma. The savages break into the stockade. There are two rooms in the cabin. Into the first and then into the second the children retreat, barring the door each time. In the last room there are two kegs of powder, that the father had just bought with a pile of pelts from a traveling trader. The boy sets a slow fuse to this powder and then the two escape from the window. The magazine goes off just as the Indians break down the door. They are hidden behind a flash and volume of smoke. The timbers of the house are seen scattered amid clouds of smoke. Only three Indians escape. They do not stand upon the order of their going forth and their exeunt gives a very welcome bit of comedy to the picture, the more because it is a proper anti- climax and relief. The mother and father hear the explosion. This gives a well utilized chance for good acting which, with the coming of a group of well-armed frontiersmen, suggesting human help and safety, produces the emotional ending. Such an ending is nearly always desirable after the nerves have been strung by the elemental struggle. It is very well photographed. - The Moving Picture World, February 24 1912

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Short | Drama

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