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The Way of All Flesh (1927) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • The story takes place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s with a bank clerk named August Schiller who is happy with both his job and his family. He is tasked with transporting $1,000 in securities to Chicago. On the train he meets a blond seductress who convinces him to buy her a bottle of champagne, and takes him to a saloon. The next morning he awakes alone in a dilapidated bedroom and without the securities. He finds the woman and pleads with her to return the stolen securities. When he also threatens her he is knocked unconscious by the saloon owner and dragged to a nearby railroad track. As the crooks strips him of his ID and papers, Schiller recovers and struggles with the saloon owner, ultimately throwing him into the path of an oncoming train, killing him. Schiller flees and, as he is about to take his own life, sees in a newspaper that he is supposedly dead. The saloon owner's mangled body had been identified as Schiller's. Twenty years pass. Schiller is now aged and unkempt, employed to pick up trash in a park. He sees his own family go to a cemetery and place a wreath on his grave. Following other scenes in a Christmas snowstorm, Schiller makes his way to his former home, where he sees that the son whom he had taught to play violin is now a successful musician. He walks away, carrying in his pocket a dollar that his son has given him, not recognizing that the old tramp was his father.


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