AskDefine | Define saphead

Dictionary Definition

saphead n : a person who lacks good judgment [syn: fool, sap, muggins, tomfool]

Extensive Definition

The Saphead is a 1920 comedy film featuring Buster Keaton. It was the actor's first starring role in a full-length feature and the film that launched his career.
The plot was a merging of two stories, Bronson Howard's play "The Henrietta" and the novel "The New Henrietta" by Victor Mapes and Winchell Smith, which was meant to be an adaption of Howard's play.


  • Beulah Booker - Agnes Gates
  • Edward Connelly - Musgrave
  • Edward Jobson - Rev. Murray Hilton
  • Edward Alexander - Watson Flint
  • Odette Taylor - Mrs. Cornelia Opdyke
  • Carol Holloway - Rose Turner
  • Irving Cummings - Mark Turner
  • Jack Livingston - Dr. George Wainright
  • William H. Crane - Nicholas Van Alstyne
  • Buster Keaton - Bertie 'The Lamb' Van Alstyne
  • Katherine Albert - Hattie (uncredited)
  • Henry Clauss - Valet (uncredited)
  • Alfred Hollingsworth - Hathaway (uncredited)
  • Helen Holte - Henrietta Reynolds (uncredited)
  • Jeffrey Williams - Hutchins (uncredited)

Plot Summary

Nicholas Van Alstyne is the richest man in New York, but he is very disappointed in the behavior of his son, Bertie, who stays out all night gambling and partying, and who seems to show no talent or interest in work. In fact, Bertie is feigning this behavior because he believes it will help to impress the girl of his dreams, his adopted sister Agnes. Unfortunately, it helps him to do nothing more than get disowned by his father. Bertie's sister, Rose, is married to an unsuccessful lawyer named Mark, who is admired by Van Alstyne but in fact is a troublemaker. He has a mistress named Henrietta and an illegitimate child with her. When Henrietta dies after a long illness, a letter is sent to him informing him about the present circumstances. Mark manages to claim the letter is actually Bertie's, breaking Agnes' heart and ensuring Van Alstyne never wants to speak to his son again. Soon after, when Van Alstyne goes away on business he leaves Mark in charge of running the family's finances, but Mark plots to claim the family fortunes himself by selling off all their shares of stock. Bertie inadvertently saves the day by buying back all of the stock without realizing what he is doing. When Van Alstyne sees what has happened he forgives Bertie and allows him to marry Agnes. Mark, meanwhile, conveniently dies of a heart attack when he realizes that his scheme has failed. The film ends a year later, with the birth of Bertie and Agnes' twin children.


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