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Film: Hands Up!
Two beautiful ladies. What to do?

Hands Up! is a 1926 comedy film directed by Clarence Badger and starring Raymond Griffith. Griffith plays Jack, a Confederate soldier during The American Civil War who is sent west on an espionage mission. The Union government is deep in debt due to the war effort, but they are anticipating a badly needed deposit of gold from a rich strike in the Nevada mountains. Jack's mission is to gain the confidence of miner Silas Woodcock (Mack Swain, The Gold Rush), while doing whatever he can to keep the gold out of Union hands. Complicating Jack's efforts in Nevada are the Union officer sent to take possession of the gold, as well as Woodcock's two pretty daughters, Alice and Mae, both of whom fall in love with him.

Raymond Griffith was a big star in The Twenties, but he and his films are almost completely forgotten today. Hands Up! has a place in the National Film Registry. Keep Circulating the Tapes, as this film has never been released in an authorized video format.


Tropes:

  • All for Nothing: After an epic chase through town, Jack gets the drop on Silas and Capt. Logan, tells Alice and Mae to get the stagecoach carrying the gold, and seemingly has won—when everyone starts cheering. Lee has surrendered and the war is over.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Jack, frozen in shock, standing motionless as everyone else goes bananas celebrating the end of the war.
  • Anachronism Stew: The Indians have captured Jack's party and seem to be about to kill them all. They go into a war dance, when Jack frowns, shakes his head, and proceeds to teach them the Charleston.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: The opening title to this very silly film says it is "an historical incident, with variations."
  • Betty and Veronica: Averted. Although blonde Mae and brunette Alice look like a Betty and Veronica dilemma, the gag is that they are almost exactly the same—they flirt with Jack in the same way, they react the same way when he asks each one separately to marry him, and they each pretend to be his wife to save him from hanging. This sets up the final joke (see Marry Them All below).
  • Casual Danger Dialog: As General Lee briefs Jack on his mission, the chaos of battle increases around them, with bullets flying, cannonballs skipping past, and finally the cabin they're in exploding. Neither of them so much as flinch.
    Lee: This is a secret between the three of us.
    (Lee's adjutant is shot and killed)
    Jack: The two of us, sir!
  • Dirty Coward: Capt. Logan, the Union officer sent to take custody of the gold, abandons Jack, Silas, and the girls when the Indians attack.
  • Excited Show Title!
  • Foreshadowing: Jack reads the palms of the two sisters and tells them "you're each going to marry a dark man." They do. Him.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Jack sets off an explosion in order to wreck Woodcock's mine. An enormous blast shatters the whole operation—and opens up an even bigger, richer gold vein.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Sitting Bull, and Brigham Young all appear.
  • Injun Country: While on the way to the gold mine, the coach carrying Silas, Jack, Silas's daughters, and Union Capt. Logan is waylaid by Indians. Jack the charmer charms his way out of this jam by teaching the Indians how to dance the Charleston and playing craps with the Indian chief.
  • Love Triangle / Sibling Triangle: Jack, Silas's pretty blonde daughter Mae, and Silas's pretty brunette daughter Alice. With a very unusual resolution; see Marry Them All below.
  • Marry Them All: At the end, each sister realizes the other is also in love with Jack and offers to step aside. Jack is puzzling about how to resolve the Love Triangle when a stagecoach arrives. A bearded man exits the stagecoach and introduces the sisters to his wife, who exits the stagecoach behind him. Then a second wife emerges, then a third. Five wives come out of the coach before the man is revealed to be Brigham Young. The film ends with Griffith leaving with both sisters in the stagecoach, which has a sign on the back reading "To Salt Lake City".
  • Pocket Protector: The Indian chief grabs Jack by the neck and twice tries to slice his stomach open. The blade is deflected by the somewhat oversized pair of dice that Jack is carring in his coat.
  • Roof Hopping: Jack resorts to this when he is finally exposed as the spy and the local garrison comes after him.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: During his whole time in the West—fleeing from Indians, blowing up gold mines, running away from a posse, stealing stagecoaches—Jack is dressed in white tie and tails, with a top hat, a cape, and a walking stick to boot. This was Griffith's Iconic Outfit.
  • Shot at Dawn: It turns out that you can distract the firing squad that is trying to execute you by flinging dinner plates in the air for them to shoot at.
  • Third-Option Love Interest: What to do when in love with two sisters? Well, you could pick one. Or you could do something else—see Marry Them All above.
  • Title Drop: Silas says "Hands up!" to Jack after Jack is exposed as the spy.
  • Triang Relations: Type #9 (Alice and Mae, sisters, both attracted to Jack).
  • Walking Armory: When Jack is finally captured by the Union soldiers at the end, he is divested of a staggering amount of revolvers and derringers.
Hail the Conquering HeroCreator/ParamountHarold and Maude
Flesh and the DevilFilms of the 1920sLa Bohème
Schindler's ListNational Film RegistryBaby Face

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