a/k/a The Heart of Jack Johnson
Year of Release: 1921
Black & White
Studio: Andlauer Production Company
Jack Johnson (Himself)
Blanche Thompson (Molly Moran)
Reed Thomas (Joe Walker)
Walter Simpson (Tom Atkins)
Industrious Joe Walker competes for the hand of Molly Moran. Joe’s rival for Molly’s affection is the vicious bully and gang leader Tom Atkins, who enjoys beating up on the weaker, smaller Joe. One day, as Joe is going home from work, his route takes him through a park where Tom and his gang are waiting. Fortunately, former heavyweight champ, Jack Johnson, is also in the park. Hearing Joe’s cries for help, Johnson goes to his aid. After Jack has finished with them, the rowdies lay stretched out on the ground.
Johnson offers to train Joe, convincing him to give up cigarettes and teaching him “physical and breathing exercises.” Under Johnson’s instructions Joe becomes a healthy man and an athlete.
About this time the National Colored League baseball games are in progress at the ball park. In a game between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Detroit Stars (actual scenes) the captain of the Monarchs, sprains his arm and due to illness and injuries to his pitching staff, is in desperate need of a pitcher. Knowing Joe’s ability as an amateur pitcher, he appeals to Joe to finish the game. Joe agrees, puts on a uniform, pitches a wonderful game and hits the winning home run in the ninth inning.
A few weeks later at the Clover Leaf Club’s annual masquerade ball, Tom, jealous because of the attention Joe is showing Molly, schemes to get Joe out of the way. He has Joe beaten up, but Molly overhears the plot, denounces Tom and rushes to Joe.
Tom, decides on another scheme, and frames Molly for robbery. His plan is successful and Molly is arrested. At the trial a small boy saves Molly from conviction by identifying Tom as the guilty one. Tom tries to escape from the courtroom, but Joe goes after him. Joe catches up with Tom and as a result of the training he received from Jack Johnson is able to beat Tom to the ground.
Later, Joe and Molly get married and go to Johnson’s home for his blessing. Johnson gives them a check for $1,000 as a nest egg. As the world rolls on, six years later Molly, Joe and their family live happily in a pleasant home.
The working title was The Heart of Jack Johnson.
A New York Times article reported that the film contained “footage of an all-black Kansas team in the background.” As the World Rolls On featured footage of actual NNL games involving the Kansas City Monarchs, Detroit Stars, and Chicago American Giants. The games are integrated into the plot, and Negro league players, notably Sam Crawford, Bruce Petway, and Cristóbal Torriente, had roles in the film.
This film is believed to be lost.
Source(s): agatetype.typepad.com; TCM.