While legendary 19th-century comic actor Joseph Jefferson was most closely associated with the stage role of Rip Van Winkle, he was long gone by the time this multireel film version of the Washington Irving classic was committed to the screen. Thus, the role of the sleepy Mr. Winkle was assumed by Jefferson's son Thomas Jefferson, a fine performer in his own right. Based on the barnstorming play by Dion Boucicault and the elder Jefferson, the film is set in New York's Catskill Mountain region in the late 18th century. After consuming "one too many," irresponsible scamp Rip Van Winkle wanders away from his nagging wife and into the mountains, where he falls asleep for twenty years. Dusting off the cobwebs after his two-decade snooze, Rip returns home to find that his poverty-stricken daughter (Clariet Claire) is about to enter into a forced marriage with the village scoundrel (a plot device that figured not at all in the original Washington Irving story). Making up for his past shortcomings, Rip routs the rascally villain and his minions, enabling his daughter to marry the man she truly loves. Rip Van Winkle was remade in 1921, again with Thomas Jefferson in the title role.
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