Cast & Crew
On the night before his execution, inmate Jim Warren is visited by newsman Joel Alva Clarke, who offers to obtain Jim a governor's pardon if he will implicate those who were responsible for his crime, so that Clarke can run the story in his scandal sheet. Jim refuses to talk, however, until a priest gives him his last rites. Finally, he tells the story of how he came to be convicted of murder: Twenty years before, Jim, a petty criminal, is in love with a woman named Norma Davis, whom he impregnates. When journalist Phil Powers, who is also in love with Norma, learns she is pregnant, he offers to marry her, but she is holding out for Jim, unaware that he is in prison. On the day Norma and Jim are reunited, twice-widowed saloon proprietress Mollie Burke, who helped Jim get out of jail and rerouted Norma's letters, refuses to lend him money to elope because she wants him herself. Jim steals over $600 and hides it in Norma's knitting basket and ducks out when the police arrive. After the police find the money and apprehend Norma, Mollie makes a deal with Jim to clear Norma if he promises to marry her. As Alderman Connors is about to marry Jim and Mollie, however, Norma walks in and faints. Jim refuses to go through with the wedding, but then discovers that Norma has already married Phil. Twenty years later, Jim works a shell game at the Jepson County Fair, where he meets Norma and Jim's daughter, also called Norma, who is about to marry into the wealthy and prominent Lawrence family. Phil has become a prominent newspaper man. During the fair, Norma's fiancé Arthur catches Jim's pickpocket friend Harry Silvers stealing Norma's purse, but when Phil sees who the culprit is, he arranges for his release. Phil's newspaper rivals, Clarke and Walter Pritchard, exploit the incident in order to scandalize Phil as a consorter with thieves. Clarke offers to pay Harry for Jim and Norma's old love letters, in which she asked him to marry her because she was pregnant. Jim goes to see Phil to warn him that Harry is going to blackmail him with the letters, which Harry stole from Jim that morning. Phil thinks Jim is trying to trick him, however, and pulls a gun on him. Norma enters the room and takes the gun from Phil, and, realizing the foolishness of suspecting Jim, Phil tells Norma that Jim is her father. Harry then arrives and tries to frame Jim for blackmail, but Phil sees through the ruse and he and Jim accost Harry and frisk him for the letters. When Harry claims that there are other copies of the letters, then insults Norma's mother, she shoots him. Jim takes the blame for the murder and burns the letters. As Jim finishes his story, he learns that his confessor is not a priest, but an ex-con who is now a fake evangelist in league with Clarke. Moments before Jim's execution, Norma enters the cell and admits she is the murderer, thus ensuring Jim's pardon. After Norma stands trial and is acquitted and her marriage to Arthur is assured, Jim says goodbye to her.
J. M. Sullivan
Although Frank Sheridan's character is listed as "Joel Clarke" in the screen credits, he is called "Alva Clarke" in the film. Max Marcin's play was the source of the 1926 Cecil B. De Mille film Silence, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Vera Reynolds and H. B. Warner (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5044).