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Film / The Call of the Cumberlands

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The Call of the Cumberlands is a 1916 film written by Julia Crawford Ivers and directed by Frank Lloyd.note 

The Souths and the Hollmans are feuding families in the Cumberland Mountains of Appalachia. A longstanding history of violence between the two has recently been ended by a very shaky two-year truce. Samson South, basically the heir apparent of the South clan, is not all that interested in feuding, being more focused on his girlfriend, distant (well, hopefully distant) cousin Sally Miller.

Samson is different from all the other hillbillies of the area in another way: he likes to draw, and he's quite good at it. Fate intervenes one day in the person of George Lescott, a New York artist in the area to paint the natural beauty of the Cumberlands. When George breaks his arm in a fall and has to rest for a while, he makes the acquaintance of Samson. After seeing Samson's natural artistic gifts George invites him to New York to study, much to Sally's displeasure. Meanwhile, the barely contained hostility between the two clans continues to seethe.



  • Attempted Rape: Spicer tries to rape Sally in a scene that adds little to the story other than demonstrating what a dirtbag Spicer is. She grabs a shotgun and fends him off.
  • Fanservice Extra: Two of the four models posing in George's studio are topless. Censorship was notably laxer in the silent movie days than it was after The Hays Code was imposed in 1934.
  • Feuding Families: Two violently feuding Appalachia families, obviously Inspired by... the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud.
  • Flashback: A flashback to Samson's father, dying from a Hollman bullet, handing Samson a rifle and urging him to use it to kill Hollmans.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Tamarack Spicer of the South clan. He was the one who shot Jesse Purvy of the Hollman clan, a shooting temporarily blamed on Samson that nearly derailed the truce. Samson is incensed when he figures this out. Later, Spicer tries to rape Sally Miller but she fends him off with a shotgun.
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  • Funetik Aksent: Done with all the hillbilly talk, as was often done in the silent era with title cards to show accents. When Sally gets a look at Lescott's nature scene she says "Hit's purty."
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Sally does a lot of giant cow milking and other theatrical gestures after she finds out that George has invited Samson to New York.
  • Nice Hat: The ladies at George's art gallery have typical Nice Hats of the Edwardian era, with foot-high feathers.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Samson justifies his decision to go study art while Sally is left behind by saying that there's no reason for women to go to school. Later, Sally does in fact learn to read.
  • Romantic False Lead: George Lescott's sister Adrienne, who obviously takes a fancy to Samson. It never goes anywhere.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Samson manages to code switch between fancy talk and Appalachia talk in the middle of a single sentence directed at Adrienne.
    Samson: Miss Lescott, I haven't any idea of proper manners, and as we would say back home, I'm plumb skeered of ladies.
  • Title Drop Chapter: The scene where Samson receives a letter from home telling him that war has broken out again is proceeded by a title card reading "The Call of the Cumberlands."
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The Hollmans chase after the shooter of Jesse Purvy with torches and bloodhounds. (They fail to catch Tamarack Spicer as Spicer is able to escape in time.)

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