The Open Switch (1926)
50 min | Action, Adventure, Crime
George Waters, the superintendent of the Overland Ltd., has offered a large reward for the return of an express package that was stolen from the railroad. Special investigator Daniel Lonergan is traveling to Iron Junction to review the situation but is captured by crook Jim McGuire and his two henchmen. McGuire steals Lonergan's identity papers, as well as a statement by one of the thieves revealing that the package is hidden in the turntable at Iron Junction. McGuire decides to impersonate Lonergan and find the stolen money himself, and so leaves the investigator locked in a small room at his henchmen's shack. At Iron Junction, Waters is reprimanded by the manager of Lord's Insurance Co., Stonewall Flint, who tells him that the railroad will have to replace the stolen money if it is not found. Flint threatens to fire Waters if he does not recover the package, but Waters' fiery daughter Helen refuses to be cowed by Flint's shouting. Determined to help her father by keeping an eye on the train yard, Helen joins the "wash-rack chorus" of women who clean the trains. Fireman Jack Strong, who works with engineer Tim Gerraghty, is attracted to Helen, as she is to him, but he shyly avoids flirting with her because "Tim is watching." McGuire arrives at Waters' office and presents himself as Lonergan, although Flint mistrusts him. The unsuspecting Waters accepts McGuire, however, and sends him to the yard to begin investigating. McGuire immediately makes enemies of the wash-rack chorus by aggressively trying to kiss Helen, and when Jack confronts him, the two men fight. Jack trounces McGuire, while at the henchmen's shack, Lonergan finds a tin can and fashions an arrowhead bearing a plea for help. Lonergan fires the arrow into a passing train, and soon after, Helen and Jack find it at Iron Junction. Helen and Jack race off in his dilapidated car, and upon reaching the shack, rescue Lonergan. While the thugs head off to find McGuire at his boardinghouse, Helen, Jack and Lonergan jump aboard Tim's train. Jack still refuses a kiss from Helen, however, because Tim is watching. At the junction, Helen rushes to get Waters, and Jack retrieves the stolen package after being told of its location by Lonergan. McGuire spots Jack and begins fighting with him, and Jack is knocked unconscious when he falls and hits his head on a rail. McGuire abandons the unconscious Jack, who is soon endangered when an engine enters the turntable and is about to crush him. Helen arrives in time to save Jack, and when he awakens, the pair go to Waters office, where they tell Waters about McGuire. Flint fires Waters for believing in the crook, but soon news arrives that McGuire is at the boardinghouse, and Helen and Jack are able to capture him and his men. With the package retrieved and Waters' job safe, Helen and Jack celebrate at home, but are prevented from kissing because Waters is watching.