Cast & Crew
Bill Bronson, a destitute hobo, wanders into a speakeasy for a drink. Just as he is about to be thrown out, a young woman takes pity on him, and her companion invites him to their table. Lacking the compassion of his date, the man urges Bill to recite the poem "The Face on the Barroom Floor," but Bill falters during the recitation, and chooses to tell his own story instead: He and his wife Mary are happily married and he is employed by her father, Mr. Grove, at his bank. Bill disagrees with his father-in-law's decision to give a loan to notorious bootlegger Cesar Vanzetti. On the night of Mary's party, Bill unintentionally takes some bonds home. Concerned about their safety, he locks them in his personal safe. At first the party is boring because the guests cannot get drunk due to Prohibition. Despite teetotaler Bill's protest, their good friend Sam Turner, who once was in love with Mary, brings in Slick Waters, whose alcoholic beverages completely intoxicate the guests, causing licentious behavior. Mary gets drunk and when a guest breaks Mary's pearl necklace, she asks Bill to put it in the safe. He forgets to close the safe during a disagreement with Mary, who thinks Bill is boring because he refuses to drink. Bill's abstinence stems from the knowledge that his family has problems with alcohol, but he becomes weary of the peer pressure and gets drunk. The next day, Bill discovers the bonds are missing. Worried, he confides in Sam, who actually stole the bonds and is working a deal with Vanzetti. Sam advises Bill to "disappear" for a while, and privately tells Slick to keep Bill inebriated. Bill is placed under the supervision of "Doc," at Louie's speakeasy, where he indulges in excessive drinking. Mary is mystified by his disappearance and asks Sam's help. Hoping to have Mary for himself, Sam gives her an empty promise that he will bring Bill back. Bill gives Sam $25,000 he had saved for a house in order to go in on a bootlegging deal with Vanzetti to earn enough money to replace the bonds. Sam double-crosses him, however, and tells him the liquor was hijacked. At her wit's end, Mary confides in Slick, asking his help in finding Bill. Slick realizes that Sam is double-crossing everyone, but before he has a chance to do anything, he is killed by Vanzetti's men. Slick left his girl friend a note just before he was killed, and at his instructions, she calls Mary and warns her about Sam. Mary follows Sam to the speakeasy where Bill is in hiding, but when she and Bill fall into each other's arms, Sam fights with them. Mary is killed and the hotel is set on fire by a grenade thrown by Vanzetti's men. Both Sam and Bill escape, however, Bill is completely broken and destitute. Vanzetti realizes that Slick was innocent and that Sam has been duping him, so he kills Sam, but is arrested. Bill is left to wander the streets, and he realizes that the one thing that caused his downfall is the one thing he has left, liquor. At the end of his tale, Bill collapses and dies.
Cast credits, rather than appearing in print on the screen, are spoken by an off-screen narrator, over the images of the actor as the characters they portray. While several reviews list Invincible Pictures Corp. as distributor, the film is not included in their list of releases in FDYB. The Face on the Barroom Floor was previously filmed in 1923 by Fox Film Corp. It was directed by John Ford and starred Henry B. Walthall and Ruth Clifford (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1600).