Hell's Hinges

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Hell's Hinges is a 1916 American Western silent film starring William S. Hart and Clara Williams. Directed by Charles Swickard, William S. Hart and Clifford Smith, and produced by Thomas H. Ince, the screenplay was written by C. Gardner Sullivan.



Hell's Hinges tells the story of a minister, Rev. Bob Henley (played by Standing), who comes to a gunfighter-plagued town with his sister, Faith (played by Williams). The owner of the saloon, Silk Miller (played by Hollingsworth), and his accomplices sense trouble and hire gunman Blaze Tracy (played by Hart), the most dangerous man around, to run the minister out of town.

Rev. Henley is seduced by the dance-hall girl, Dolly (played by Glaum), and falls from grace as his sister, Faith, rehabilitates Blaze Tracey, who finds something special in her, and soon Miller and the others have Blaze to deal with.



Critical reception

Initial reviews in 1916

When Hell's Hinges was released, the reception of the film among New York critics was so positive that the producer bought space in newspapers around the country to reprint the reviews.[1] The following are excerpts from those reviews:

  • New York Telegraph: "Dramatic suspense and punch, coupled with artistic treatment, are the most conspicuous characteristics of 'Hell's Hinges' ... [A] swaggering, hard-drinking, fast-shooting, all-round 'bad' man, with good stuff under a rough exterior, furnished Mr. Hart with a vehicle in which his talents show to best advantage."
  • New York American: "A well-balanced supporting cast, a lavish production and marked finesse in treatment combines to make 'Hell's Hinges' an unusual offering."
  • New York Press: "Gunplay and religion lubricate 'Hell's Hinges' ... It is a film drama that combines all the elements that make for success ... Reckless riding, double-handed shooting from the hip, a dance hall of the Bret Harte description and, finally a conflagration that gives a truly Gehenna-like finish to the place known as Hell's Hinges ... No actor before the screen has been able to give as sincere and true a touch to the Westerner as Hart. He rides in a manner indigenous to the soil, he shoots with the real knack and he acts with that sense of artistry that hides the acting."
  • New York Sun: "It depicts strikingly the storm and stress of existence in a Western town with a final scene of the shooting up of a gambling den, which aroused the spectators to a high degree of approval."
  • New York Herald: "William S. Hart is beginning to typify certain things in the film world. He is ever stoical, slow to anger, but possessed of the powers of a hundred men when aroused. He is a big, bluff, wholesome fellow, whose ideas are frequently a little peculiar, and he goes about matters in exclusively his own way. But when the showdown arrives, depend upon it, William S. Hart will be found lined up on the side of righteousness. This week, for example, Hart is appearing at the Knickerbocker Theatre in 'Hell's Hinges. Hart has the opportunity to do some good riding, to carry a drunken minister on his back, to shoot the villain and some sub-villains, to set the town afire and to marry the minister's sister. The Kaiser himself has appeared in pictures and done less."
  • New York Herald: "'Hell's Hinges,' one of those traditional places on the frontier of the Wild West, 'where there ain't no Ten Commandments and a man can get a thirst,' was pictured in the most lurid manner."

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