Cast & Crew
Alec B. Francis
Jimmy Valentine leads a double life; he is a respectable business man during the day, and an infamous safecracker at night. As his companions are making a getaway by train after successfully burgling a bank vault, Jimmy defends Rose Fay from the insults of Cotton, his crony, and consequently is sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing after Cotton betrays him to the police. Three years later during a prison inspection conducted by her father, Lieutenant Governor Fay, Rose recognizes Jimmy and after he convinces her that he was unjustly convicted, she obtains his pardon. As Lee Randall, Jimmy soon becomes the cashier in Fay's bank. While warding off his old associates and trying to lead them from crime, Jimmy also assures Detective Doyle, who has a warrant for his arrest, that he is not the notorious safecracker. When Rose's baby sister is accidentally locked in the bank vault, Jimmy acknowledges his identity and rescues her. Rose intercedes with Doyle, who destroys the warrant, and she romantically embraces Jimmy.
The play was based on O. Henry's short story "A Retrieved Reformation," published in Cosmopolitan Magazine, April 1903. O. Henry took the plot from the life of his pal Jimmy Connors while both of them were serving time in the Ohio State Penitentiary. Sources conflict concerning the identity of the actor playing the role "Blinkey Davis," some crediting John Starkey, while others credit John Boone. Some scenes in the film were shot in the big pen at Sing Sing Prison, NY. Warden Thomas Mott Osborne of Sing Sing appeared in the introduction of the film. Press agent Jake Wilk for World Film Corp. also appeared in the film. Modern sources note that Madge Evans appeared as the little girl who was locked in the vault.
The film's initial showing was on February 14, 1915, before inmates at Sing Sing, to whom Robert Warwick promised that, because they helped with the film, they would see it before anyone else. Other films based on Armstrong's play were made in 1920 by Metro (see below); in 1929 by M-G-M, starring William Haines and directed by Jack Conway (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0078); and in 1986 for public television by American Playhouse. A 1936 Republic film, The Return of Jimmy Valentine, directed by Lewis D. Collins, made use of the Jimmy Valentine character.