Riddle Gawne

Riddle Gawne is a 1918 American silent Western film directed by William S. Hart and Lambert Hillyer and featuring Lon Chaney. Considered lost for decades, one of the five reels was found to have survived in a Russian archive, and is kept in the film archive of the Library of Congress.[1]

Riddle Gawne
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam S. Hart
Lambert Hillyer
Produced byWilliam S. Hart
Thomas H. Ince
Written byCharles Alden Seltzer
StarringWilliam S. Hart
Lon Chaney
CinematographyJoseph H. August
William S. Hart Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 1918 (1918-08-03)
Running time
50 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[2] Hame Bozzam (Chaney) the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers ruled Bozzam City and the only one to dispute his claim was Jefferson "Riddle" Gawne (Hart). Riddle is a man who seeks vengeance on the one who killed his brother Wesley. Before dying his brother reveals his killers name as Watt Hyat. An open breach in hostilities occurred when Kathleen Harkness (MacDonald), daughter of Colonel Harkness (Tilton), arrived in the west. Protecting her from insult, Riddle shoots two of Bozzam's men. Unknown to the young woman, her father is a member of Bozzam's cattle rustlers, and Bozzam holds this over his head so that he can marry Kathleen. Riddle's reputation suffers at their hands, and Kathleen repudiates him. Riddle then determines to clean up the town, and in the fight that follows Bozzam kidnaps his niece as well as Kathleen after fatally wounding her father. Riddle, lone handed, pursues the fleeing man and his companions. After the chase Riddle captures,fights and kills Bozzams henchman Paisley. During the fight Riddle's leg is broken. Threatening him Bozzam reveals his real identity as Watt Hyat the man who killed his brother. In the struggle that follows, Bozzam is killed and Riddle wins the love of Kathleen.



Like many American films of the time, Riddle Gawne was subject to restrictions and cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, the Chicago Board of Censors required cuts, in Reel 1, scene of woman at bar, Reel 2, two scenes of woman at bar, scene of Riddle shooting man in back, the intertitle "Blanche Dillon, former dance hall girl, now Bozzam's 'housekeeper'" and all scenes young woman in Bozzam's house, scene of Bozzam slugging Jess Cass with gun, Reel 3, man shooting Riddle from horse, the intertitle "She may be a good nurse, but she ain't the sort of woman I want" etc., Reel 5, Bozzam shooting woman's father, shooting Riddle, and vision scene with shooting of Riddle's brother.[3]

See also


  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: Riddle Gawne". silentera.com. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  2. "Reviews: Riddle Gawne". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 7 (10): 27. August 31, 1918.
  3. "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. 7 (11): 57. September 7, 1918.
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