12 user 4 critic

The First Auto (1927)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama | 18 September 1927 (USA)
Hank owns horses, stables horses and races horses. He favorite horse always wins and he is prosperous and will known. His son (Bob), however dreams only of the future of the horseless ... See full summary »


Roy Del Ruth


Darryl F. Zanuck (story) (as Darryl Francis Zanuck), Anthony Coldeway (screen play) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Barney Oldfield ... Barney Oldfield
Patsy Ruth Miller ... Rose Robbins
Russell Simpson ... Hank Armstrong
Frank Campeau ... Mayor Sam Robbins
William Demarest ... Dave Doolittle
Douglas Gerrard ... Stebbins - Banker
Gibson Gowland ... The Blacksmith
Anders Randolf ... The Auctioneer
Paul Kruger ... Steve Bentley
Charles Emmett Mack ... Bob Armstrong (as Chas. E. Mack)


Hank owns horses, stables horses and races horses. He favorite horse always wins and he is prosperous and will known. His son (Bob), however dreams only of the future of the horseless carriage and not of the horse. This causes problems between Hank and Bob. As the people in the town convert from horses to autos, Hank detests those who switch - so he looses his friends, his son Bob and finally his livery business. Bob leaves his flame Rose and goes to Detroit, gets involved with the auto industry and does very well. He does not forget Hank and promises to see him again, but Hank's hatred of the auto may cause the death of Bob. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Do You Remember the First Girl to Walk Home from an Auto Ride? See more »


Comedy | Drama








Release Date:

18 September 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Primeiro Automóvel See more »

Filming Locations:

Riverside, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (talking sequences, musical score, sound effects)| Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Charles E. Mack died in a car crash on his way to the studio four months prior to the release of this completed film. He was not on his way to shoot a car chase to this film. See more »


As the film cuts between Hank and his friend watching the auto race, a pair of glasses appear on Hank's face, then disappear. See more »


Elmer Hays: This is our factory, employing twenty men, and turning out three cars per month - - which will soon be increased to five!
See more »

Crazy Credits

"A Romance Of The Last Horse And The First Horseless Carriage" See more »


Edited into Gadgets Galore (1955) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
In the score at the celebration of Hank's racing victory
See more »

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User Reviews

Primitive-looking for the year it was produced
15 July 2009 | by morrisonhimselfSee all my reviews

Sound pictures were only a year or two away, but this silent looked, in spots, as if it had been made earlier.

The best silent movies used a minimum of inter-titles, but "The First Auto" was overburdened with them -- oh, granted, not as overburdened as some other movies, but still there were too many.

There are, though, several reasons to watch this movie, and only a few to cause head-scratching and puzzlement.

First, seeing the original Barney Oldfield, as himself, is probably reason enough to watch "The First Auto." Oldfield was a magic name in the early years of both autos and cinema, and was an automotive hero a long time before there was such a thing as NASCAR.

Second, seeing Russell Simpson as the lead is a treat. He was an excellent actor, but was nearly always relegated to a "with" role. Even if in top-line films, he was put into secondary positions, and obviously, just judging from "The First Auto," he was fully qualified to get top billing.

Finally, one has to see it to believe it: The "special effects" when a race car supposedly catches fire ... well, "primitive" doesn't begin to describe it.

Perhaps we need to give an "A" for effort; and to note how far we have come in effects is one very good reason to watch this.

One major player was killed before filming was complete, but the result is no "Plan 9 from Outer Space": "The First Auto" is seamless in how that actor's death is handled.

This really is a movie to watch, for the good cast (also look for the adorable Patsy Ruth Miller), for a good story, and to see how the world of movie-making has changed.

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