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Thieves’ Gold
Also known as Back to the Right Trail in the USA
(1918) American
B&W : Five reels
Directed by Jack Ford (John Ford)

Cast: Harry Carey [Cheyenne Harry], Molly Malone [Alice Norris], Vester Pegg [Curt Simmons], L.M. Wells [Mr. Savage], Helen Ware [Mrs. Savage], [?] John Cook or Johnnie Cooke? [Uncle Larkin], Harry Tenbrook [‘Colonel’ Betoski], Martha Mattox [Mrs. Larkin], Millard K. Wilson (M.K. Wilson)

The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated, production; distributed by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [A Universal Special Feature]. / Scenario by George Hively, from the short story “Back to the Right Trail” by Frederick R. Bechdolt. Cinematography by Ben F. Reynolds (Ben Reynolds). / © 6 March 1918 by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [LP12149]. Released 18 March 1918. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format. / Working title: Back to the Right Trail.

Drama: Western.

Synopsis: [Variety, 22 March 1918, page 50] Featuring Harry Carey, “Thieves Gold” is a westerner, with the usual hard riding, shooting and the like. The story opens in Mexico, where frequent shipments of money, smuggled across the border to revolutionists, are preyed upon by highwaymen. Curt Simens, one of the highwaymen, has been caught and sentences to die. He escapes. / The scene shifts to Arizona, where “Cheyenne” Harry is in charge of the Savage Ranch with Uncle Larkin his only companion. Tired of the lonesomeness of the life, he sends his resignation to Savage by Uncle Larkin. When Larkin arrives he is sent to Agua Prieta to meet Alice Norris, who, not wanting to marry the man of her father’s choice, comes to the Savage Ranch to spend the summer. / Curt, after his escapes, meets Harry. He needs a partner in his escapades and persuades Harry to join him. He does, and on the way they meet Alice coming from the train. At Prieta, Curt meets Betoski, his old pal, who tells Curt of a large shipment of gold that is on its way. Curt knows that if he were to hold up the coach and get the money, he ould have to divide a large portion of it with Betoski. Cheyenne and Betoski get into a card game. Betoski insults Cheyenne and Cheyenne shoots him. They hold up the auto containing the money. A posse starts in pursuit. Uncle Larkin, who is all jazzed up, drives his horse and buggy wild. Harry, realizing the danger the girl is in, disregards the warning of Curt that the posse is coming and rushes to her assistance, after which he starts for the hills, where the posse catch him, and he is sent to jail. Savage’s influence with the Governor gets him out. / At the fall celebration Uncle’s tongue becomes loosened by whiskey and he blurts out that Cheyenne had shot a man. Accused by Alice, Cheyenne confesses and leaves her. He meets Curt and they gamble. Cheyenne forces him to let him win and leaves with Curt’s money. Curt, in revenge, follows him and shoots him in the arm, but not before Harry plugs Curt. Alice, who sent for her fiance in the east, happens to be passing that way with him when they discover Harry wounded. She realizes that shes loves Harry more than she thought and dismisses her fiance. The picture contains lots of good scenery and the photography is well done. // Additional synopsis available in AFI-F1 n. F1.4416.

Survival status: The film is presumed lost.

Current rights holder: Public domain.

Keywords: Accidents (Gun) - Chases - Cowboys - Crime: Robbery (Stagecoach) - Criminals: Highwaymen, Robbers, Thieves - Games: Card - Medical: Wounds (Gunshot) - Mexico-American border - Police: Posses - Ranches: Ranchers

Listing updated: 4 June 2010.

References: AFI-F1 n. F1.4416; Braff-Universal n. 8061; Hirschhorn-Universal p. 30; Sinclair-Ford p. 230 : Variety-19180322 p. 50 : Website-AFI.

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