Almost a Husband (1919)

Sam Lyman a homely schoolteacher, arrives from New England to settle in the Mississippi Valley town of Old Ebenezer, Arkansas while he studies law. During a game of forfeits given at the ... See full summary »


Clarence G. Badger


Robert F. Hill, Opie Read (story "Old Ebenezer") | 1 more credit »




Credited cast:
Will Rogers ... Sam Lyman
Peggy Wood ... Eva McElwyn
Herbert Standing Herbert Standing ... Banker McElwyn
Cullen Landis ... Jerry Wilson
Clara Horton ... Jane Sheldon
Ed Brady ... Zeb Sawyer
Sidney De Gray Sidney De Gray ... John Carruthers
Gus Saville Gus Saville ... Jasper Stagg
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams


Sam Lyman a homely schoolteacher, arrives from New England to settle in the Mississippi Valley town of Old Ebenezer, Arkansas while he studies law. During a game of forfeits given at the annual town social by Banker McElwyn, the richest man in town, Sam marries the banker's daughter Eva, the prettiest girl in town, in a fake ceremony. The couple later discovers that the marriage is legal and Sam offers to bow out, but Eva, who does not want to marry her father's choice, Zeb Sawyer, a rich mule dealer, persuades Sam to continue the marriage in name only. After Sam withstands slander from Zeb and McElwyn, they send night riders to horsewhip Sam and run him out of town, but he remains. When Zeb launches a run on McElwyn's bank, Sam saves it by depositing money he receives from writing a novel and bags marked $20,000, which are filled with horse shoes. Afterward, Eva refuses to have the marriage annulled. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Homliest and Funniest Man On the Screen in a surprise comedy (Print Ad- Troy Sunday Budget, ((Troy NY)) 1 February 1920)







Release Date:

12 October 1919 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Az uj tanító See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams. See more »

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User Reviews

Will Rogers gets lynched
2 October 2002 | by F Gwynplaine MacIntyreSee all my reviews

Will Rogers wrote his own dialogue intertitles for the silent film "Almost a Husband". The plot of this movie is filled with all sorts of down-home events which might once have been common in small-town America (such as the forfeit game, the mock marriage and the midnight riders), but which are certainly not commonplace today. As a result, "Almost a Husband" evokes a bygone rural America that is idealised and sentimentalised, and which may never actually have existed ... almost a Norman Rockwell vision of America. It's a quaint film, but not without interest for modern viewers.

Zeb Sawyer, from a well-to-do local family, wants to court Eva McElwyn. Eva is the banker's daughter, but her father Ebenezer(!) isn't very wealthy, as the bank is in dire straits due to the fact that Ebenezer McElwyn would rather write romantic novels than tend to his financial ledgers. Ebenezer McElwyn wants his daughter to marry Zeb so that she can have financial security.

During a party at McElwyn's house, a parlour game is played in which the losers are Eva and the new schoolmaster Sam Lyman (Will Rogers). The rules of the game require a forfeit: Sam and Eva must embarrass themselves by asking the next man who enters the house to "marry" them in a mock wedding ceremony. John Carruthers (a stranger in these here parts) shows up a few minutes later; when Sam and Eva ask him to be the "preacher" and marry them, he shrugs and obliges ... with the townspeople as witnesses. Then it turns out that Carruthers is an ordained minister; Sam and Eva are legally married!

Sam offers to "fergit" about the wedding, but Eva insists that the marriage is valid: she sees this as a ploy against Zeb's unwelcome advances. Zeb organises a gang of "midnight riders" (a Klan-like vigilante group) to torment Sam, who eludes them on horseback. Zeb also starts rumours calculated to begin a run on Eb McElwyn's bank. But McElwyn has just written a novel which is sure to make him rich(!!!). The bank is saved, and Eva has decided that she's actually in love with Sam. Aw, shucks!

"Almost a Husband" is an interesting view of a society that no longer exists (if it ever did), and some of the comedy still works. I'll rate this movie 5 out of 10.

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