A Modern Hero
|A Modern Hero|
|Directed by||Georg Wilhelm Pabst|
|Written by||Louis Bromfield
|Edited by||James Gibbon|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||71 minutes|
When the circus comes to a small town, resident Joanna Ryan (Jean Muir) becomes pregnant by horse trick rider Pierre Radier (Richard Barthelmess). He offers to marry her, but she decides they are not suited for each other. Instead, she marries steady local Elmer Croy. Pierre gives her all his money for their child.
Pierre hates the circus life, so when his friend Henry Mueller (Hobart Cavanaugh) approaches him to become his partner in a bicycle shop, he jumps at the chance, despite the disapproval of his alcoholic mother, Madame Azais (Marjorie Rambeau). To raise his share of the money needed to start the venture, he turns to wealthy young widow Leah Ernst (Florence Eldridge), who is attracted to him.
The shop is a success, but Pierre's ambitions are only whetted. He persuades his partner to branch out into newfangled automobiles. They spend several years building a new car. By a stroke of luck, the automobile of Homer Flint (Arthur Hohl), the richest man in the state, breaks down near their shop. He is interested in mass producing their car. Pierre becomes a hardworking business partner of Flint's and marries Flint's daughter, Hazel (Dorothy Burgess). However, she becomes dissatisfied with his preference for late nights at work over her company.
When the unhappy couple go golfing, Pierre, now calling himself Paul Rader, discovers that the young boy who wants to caddy for him is his son, Pierre Croy. He secretly meets Joanna and offers to adopt their child, but she refuses to give him up; he has to content himself with visits and gifts. He does however persuade her to let him send their son to a good school when he is older. On a business trip to New York, he starts an affair with Lady Claire Benston (Verree Teasdale).
Yearning to be totally independent, Paul gives his entire fortune to a shady stock speculator to manipulate Rader and Flint company stock. Flint finds out and warns him that he is getting into trouble, to no avail.
It all comes crashing down. The stock speculator turns out to be a swindler and absconds with all of Paul's money and $70,000 of Lady Benston's. Paul is also devastated to learn that his son has been killed in a car crash, the car being a birthday gift from him. When he brings the body to the grieving mother, she refuses to shake his hand. Finally, Hazel learns of Pierre's parentage, ending their marriage. Ruined and heartsick, Paul seeks out his mother. She comforts him, telling him that he has finally learned what is important, and that he can make a fresh start in Europe. He is heartened by her faith in him.
- Richard Barthelmess as Pierre Radier, aka Paul Rader
- Jean Muir as Joanna Ryan Croy
- Marjorie Rambeau as Madame Azais
- Verree Teasdale as Lady Claire Benston
- Florence Eldridge as Leah Ernst
- Dorothy Burgess as Hazel Flint Radier
- Hobart Cavanaugh as Henry Mueller
- William Janney as Young Pierre Croy
- Arthur Hohl as Homer Flint
- Theodore Newton as Elmer Croy
- J. M. Kerrigan as Mr. Ryan
- Maidel Turner as Aunt Clara Weingartner
- Mickey Rentschler as Young Pierre as a Child
- Richard Tucker as Mr. Eggelson
- Judith Vosselli as Mrs. Eggelson
- Gussow, Mel. "NY Times: A Modern Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-12.