The Turmoil was one of Booth Tarkington's most popular novels, and when Universal brought it to the screen, they assigned it to director Hobart Henley, who had directed another Tarkington book-turned-film, The Flirt. James Sheridan Sr. (Emmett Corrigan) is a powerful industrial force in his town, and he expects his three sons to follow in his footsteps. Two of them, Jim (Theodore Von Eltz) and Roscoe (Edward Hearn), willingly follow his decree, but Bibbs (George Hackathorne), the youngest, wants to become a writer. Sheridan forces him to go to work at the shop and he falls apart. The other sons are faring even worse -- Roscoe is so wrapped up in business that his wife Sybil (Eileen Pearcy) gets involved with a womanizer. Jim is drowned when a dam he is working on bursts. Mary Ventrees (Eleanor Boardman) had become engaged to Jim even though she didn't love him, and Bibbs falls for her. He knows that her family has little money, so he proposes. When she turns him down, Sheridan, who has come to see the error of his ways, works on Bibbs' behalf to bring the young people together.
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