"In his elegy for Allan Dwan, Jean-Claude Biette (CDC 332) called him "a great narrator" and "a great poet of space." An anecdote Dwan told Peter Bogdanovich about his early days shows how these compliments are linked: Scouting for ideas with his cast and crew near Lakeside, California, the young director saw a cliff and filmed a fight that ended with the hero throwing the villain over it. Still in search of a story, he then saw a flume "like a great bridge" which carried water from one ranch to another. Result: a two-reel melodrama in which the villain poisons the flume to kill his neighbor's cattle and is punished by being thrown off the cliff at the end of the film.
"The story has an archetypal quality. On the one hand, the setting (the cliff) inspires the action that takes place in it (without determining it: other actions could easily have been envisioned); on the other hand, a division of space (the two ranches) and the passageway which links them (the flume) generate a story to justify the action (THE POISONED FLUME, 1911)."