The Jack-Knife Man

The Jack-Knife Man

The Jack-Knife Man is a 1920 American silent drama film directed by King Vidor and his debut film with First National. A story of Christian charity and the virtues of self-help, the work reflects his "Creed and Pledge", a declaration of his artistic principles published the same year. Prints of the film survive in several film archives.


As described in a film magazine, Peter Lane (Turner), known as the "jack-knife man" because he spends his time whittling objects from wood, selling them to earn a living, loves and is loved by the Widow Potter (Leighton), desisting from matrimony for reasons known only to himself. When a hungry child, "Buddy," comes to his houseboat in quest of food, Peter asks and receives the aid of the Widow Potter. Returning to the boat he finds the boy's mother, dying, and he buries her and adopts the boy. A while later a tramp, "Booge," joins the queer family and refuses to be ousted. The three become inseparable companions. Then a busybody parson seizes the boy and insists on finding a home for him, placing him with the Widow Potter. Time passes and Peter becomes widely sought as a maker of wooden toys. After some developments of a startling nature, his financial position improves, and Peter marries the widow and all are happy.

    More details

    director King Vidor
    genre drama
    keywords film magazine wooden toys
    producer King Vidor
    productionCompany King W. Vidor Productions
    publisher First National Pictures