A scene from The Bells (1926) is optically reprinted and edited to Michael Gordon¹s 7 minute composition. A meditation on the fleeting nature of life and love, as seen through the roiling emulsion of an film.
Mathias, an Alsatian innkeeper, murders a rich Pole staying at his inn But Mathias' conscience will not let him rest, and the murdered man's spirit drives the innkeeper nearly mad. The victim's brother calls for an inquest and brings with him a sideshow mesmerist supposedly able to read minds. Mathias, as burgomaster, is called upon to conduct the inquest, but under the intuitive eye of the mesmerist cannot resist torment of his own conscience. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Immediate inspiration for the Sept. 1926 film seems to have been the April 1926 New York stage adaptation (one of many). On Broadway that April, director Rollo Lloyd also acted the lead role of Mathias (played by Lionel Barrymore's in the film) and Edward Loeffler played the mesmerist (Boris Karloff in the film). J.M. Kerrigan (later seen in a number of John Ford films) on Broadway '26 played Father Walter. See more »
Neat little silent movie starring Lionel Barrymore as an innkeeper with debts that endanger his political aspirations. So he murders a wealthy traveler to get the money to pay off the debts. At first things are fine but soon his victim's brother shows up and guilt begins to overtake him. Tell-tale heart (or rather, bells), here we come. Barrymore, as always, is great. Any hamminess can be forgiven due to the style of the silent era. Boris Karloff plays a creepy-looking mesmerist (hypnotist) who plays a part in Barrymore's ultimate fate. A good picture that should please most Barrymore fans and give Karloff fans a little something interesting, too. The hallucination sequence is the highlight. My only complaint is that the boisterous music score that accompanies the version I watched doesn't fit the action on screen half the time. But I won't hold that against the film as I'm not sure if this was the original music meant to accompany the film or if it's just one of many and possibly a modern add-on. It might give you a headache, though, so watch out.
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