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The Ace of Hearts (1921)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 4 April 1924 (France)
A romantic rivalry among members of a secret society becomes even tenser when one of the men is assigned to carry out an assassination.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Forrest
Hardee Kirkland ...
Morgridge
...
The Menace
Edwin Wallock ...
Chemist (as Edwin N. Wallock)
Roy Laidlaw ...
Doorkeeper
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Storyline

A secret society holds a meeting to determine what to do about a powerful and dangerous man whom they have been studying closely for the past three months. They all agree that he deserves to die. Two of the members, Farallone and Forrest, are both in love with Lilith, the group's only female member. But Lilith accepts neither of them, preferring to devote herself to the group's cause. When the group meets again and deals cards to all the members, Forrest draws the ace of hearts, meaning that he will be the one to carry out the assassination. Lilith then suddenly agrees to marry him, in order to give him courage. But after their first night together, both of them begin to feel differently about what they have planned. Written by Snow Leopard

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Passed | See all certifications »
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4 April 1924 (France)  »

Also Known As:

La carte fatale  »

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(2000 alternate)

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| (tinted)

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original ending to the film picked up after the bomb explodes at the meeting headquarters. Forrest and Lillith are living in a cabin in the woods, and believe that they are safe thanks to Farralone. Rushing back to the cabin to warn Lillith, he sees Morgridge, who tells him that they have nothing to fear - Farralone's sacrifice has taught him that love is the solution, not destruction. This ending was cut on the request of Samuel Goldwyn, who felt that it was too contrived and that the lovers reading about it in the newspaper was a much more satisfying ending. See more »

Crazy Credits

The title frame simply shows a picture of a playing card, the ace of hearts. See more »

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Referenced in Top 10 Lost Horror Films (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Vintage Chaney!
8 November 2003 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"The Ace of Hearts" is essentially another variation of the eternal triangle. As was usually the case Lon Chaney doesn't get the girl.

The plot involves a secret society referred to as "The Cause", a vigilante group of seven men and one woman who decide to rid the world of people who were in a position to do some good in the world but did not for their own selfish reasons. The group led by Mr. Morgridge (Hardee Kirkland) has chosen its next victim. The group is then dealt cards until one of them is dealt the ace of hearts. The holder of the ace of hearts is then given "the honor" of carrying out the execution.

Within the group are Mr. Farallone (Lon Chaney), Lilith (Leatrice Joy) and Mr. Forrest (John Bowers). Forrest draws the fateful ace of hearts and eagerly looks forward to the task at hand. Lilith was absent from the meeting so Farallone and Forrest, who are both in love with her, go to see her and tell her the news. She rejects Farallone's advances, but agrees to marry Forrest if as she says, that will provide him with the courage he needs.

The couple marry and return to Lilith's apartment for their wedding night. Broken hearted lover Farallone greets them to ensure that they did in fact get married. Later as the couple retires and turn out the lights, we see the pathetic Farallone standing in a driving rain lamenting his lost love. This scene alone makes the movie worthwhile. Chaney could show such emotion facially that one cannot help but feel pity for the distraught lover. This was a method Chaney would repeat in many of his other films as well.

When it comes time to murder "The man who has lived too long" (Raymond Hatton), Forrest, having succumbed to the tender love of Lilith, sees the error of the plot and backs down. Later, the committee condemns Forrest to death for his failure to carry out his assignment. But Farallone sees a way to give the couple their freedom.

Chaney plays what amounts to a supporting role here as the story centers more on the Forrest and Lilith characters, but as I pointed out, Chaney steals the film with that aforementioned scene in the rain. Raymond Hatton by the way, went on to a lengthy career in "B" westerns in the 30s and 40s usually playing the crusty old sidekick.

Vintage Chaney.


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