A French orphan girl is adopted by a wealthy British nobleman. The family lives happily, unaware that a plot is afoot to kidnap the girl and make away with the nobleman's fortune.

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Cast

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Ben Webster ...
Geoffrey Kerr ...
James Carew ...
Arthur Newton
Frederick Kerr ...
Dr. Wrightman
Pierre Maillard
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Storyline

A French orphan girl is adopted by a wealthy British nobleman. The family lives happily, unaware that a plot is afoot to kidnap the girl and make away with the nobleman's fortune. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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14 December 1919 (USA)  »

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12:10  »

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1.33 : 1
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Plodding suspenser
7 April 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Herbert Brenon was a phenomenally successful silent-film director whose career went into a rapid tailspin with the coming of talkies, and in hindsight it's not hard to see why. Even when Brenon's films featured realistic settings and believable plotlines (which is hardly the case with '12.10'), his movies have a basic air of unreality about them which works very well in the grammar of silent-film technique, but doesn't work well with a soundtrack. I've only seen a few of Brenon's films, but '12.10' is not one of his best. The early scenes set us up for a spooky tale of suspense, but the later scenes fail to pay off.

Marie Doro plays an heiress named Marie Fernando. (I well and truly hate it when film characters' names echo the names of the actors playing them: everything becomes too self-conscious.) We briefly see an unbilled child actress playing a French orphan girl, who is adopted by wealthy Lord Chatterton and raised in England. (Doro plays this character as an adult.) She runs afoul of slimy lounge-lizard Arthur Newton, who schemes to kidnap Marie and hold her to ransom. Then, when Lord Chatterton coughs up his fortune to ransom his beloved stepdaughter, Newton intends to welsh on the deal and do something nasty and villainous to virginal Marie. Boo! Hiss!

This movie is dull. The early scenes have many, many, MANY title cards that are very, VERY long, giving us lots and lots and LOTS of plot details which ought to have been conveyed visually or (better yet) left out altogether. You will be READING this movie, not watching it. Impressively, the climactic scenes (in which Marie tries to escape from Newton's clutches) are conveyed with almost no intertitles at all ... a fact which ought to make for a taut suspenseful climax, but which doesn't, as Brenon has lost the pace of his narrative.

The best performance in the film is given by Frederick Kerr in a small role. Kerr was brilliant in 'Frankenstein' as the old baron, yet is otherwise almost totally unknown. Here he shows himself to be a fine character actor. If Kerr had been born just a few years later, he could have had a career similar to that of Sydney Greenstreet. Also on hand in this film, but much less effective, is a younger actor named Geoffrey Kerr. If I'm not mistaken, he was Frederick Kerr's son; there's certainly a strong physical resemblance.

'12.10' is a dull film with a confusing plot which is singularly uninvolving. Move the clock ahead an hour and change this movie's title to '1.10', because I'll rate this movie 1 point out of 10.


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