This is a decent enough balanced work of feminism and murder mystery for the era -- and believe me, there were plenty of movies in both fields of the genre. However, there are also problems with making them as silent pictures. At least it is until the final couple of reels.
The problem with murder mysteries is that they require a lot of talk to justify discovering the murderer -- it's rarely enough to simply have the detective point his finger and have the assassin dragged away. All the red herrings and false clues have to be explained away. Likewise, unless you are going to show your feminist hero being brutalized -- and have the audience say "Why, no decent person would behave that way, so we can ignore that part of the story" -- you've got to have a lot of talk to explain the general dissatisfaction of the feminist character.
So this starts out as a doubly talky silent movie and it never manages to overcome those issues; and its net impetus as the story rolls along is utterly normative for the era -- don't take that inheritance and try to make something of yourself instead of marrying the boy next door! You'll only become the plaything of married men and get mixed up in murder!
Having said that much and if you're still reading, we can move to the work of the movie itself: it works in the beginning, anyway, because the talky aspects are set within a melodramatic framework, and melodrama works in silent pictures, particularly when the characters are decently played. The acting is fine and if Eddie Le Saint wasn't a great director, he was a capable enough one to handle stuff like that -- which is not intended to damn with faint praise. Lilian Rich is pretty and appropriately straightforward in her handling of the lead. Kudos to Pauline Garon who manages to play a character who has seen a lot more than anyone ever quite realizes. And huzzah for the cameramen who manage some very interesting shots at the right moments -- check out that corpse.
The meller aspects do overwhelm the story to point of idiot plotting as the guy never says "This is the name of the girl who was with me the night my wife was murdered", which would have the police off his back. Nor is it clear why the girl, on discovering that the trial is about to end, must get there before sentence is pronounced. Perhaps they would have dragged him to the nearest tree, slung a rope over a limb and done for him there, instead of arranging for at least a few weeks of appeals. And anyway, they discover who really did it while the jury would have been deliberating -- or at least using the men's room.
I'm afraid it's the poor plotting of the ending that overwhelms the mixture of good and indifferent pieces in the movie. Too bad.
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