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Rich old Cyrus West's relatives are waiting for him to die so they can inherit. But he stipulates that his will be read 20 years after his death. On the appointed day his expectant heirs arrive at his brooding mansion. The will is read and it turns out that Annabelle West, the only heir with his name left, inherits, if she is deemed sane. If she isn't, the money and some diamonds go to someone else, whose name is in a sealed envelope. Before he can reveal the identity of her successor to Annabelle, Mr. Crosby, the lawyer, disappears. The first in a series of mysterious events, some of which point to Annabelle in fact being unstable. Written by
The millionaire Cyrus West has spent the last years of his life in his mansion nearby the Hudson River considered insane by his greedy relatives and feeling like a canary in a cage surrounded by cats. When he dies, he stipulates that his lawyer Roger Crosby (Tully Marshall) would read his will that is kept in a safe in the twentieth anniversary of his death. On the scheduled day, Cyrus West's loyal servant Mammy Pleasant (Martha Mattox) and the lawyer welcome the guests in the creepy mansion that people tells that is inhabited by ghosts: West's nephews Harry Blythe (Arthur Edmund Carewe), Charles "Charlie" Wilder (Forrest Stanley), the scared Paul Jones (Creighton Hale), Aunt Susan Sillsby (Flora Finch), Cecily Young (Gertrude Astor) and West's niece Annabelle West (Laura La Plante). When Roger Crosby opens the will, West's mansion and fortune are left to the most distant relative having the name West, meaning Annabelle. However, she should prove first that she is sane; otherwise, the inheritance would be bequeathed to another heir whose name is in a sealed envelope. Out of the blue, a guard (George Siegmann) comes to the mansion and tells that a dangerous lunatic has fled from an institution. During the night, Roger Crosby disappears and Annabelle receives an envelope from Mammy Pleasant where West tells the location of his precious diamonds. Annabelle finds the jewels and wears a necklace, but while she is sleeping, a hand comes from the wall and steals the diamonds from her neck. With the exception of Paul Jones that loves Annabelle, her relatives believe that she is insane. But when Annabelle finds a hidden chamber in the wall with the body of Roger Crosby, Mammy Pleasant decides to call the police and the identity of the lunatic is disclosed.
"The Cat and the Canary" is a creepy mystery and horror silent film by the German Expressionist director Paul Leni. The plots blends black humor with elements of horror using the atmosphere of the expressionism with shadows and lighting, and the result is a stylish movie where even the inter-titles are funny. The beauty of Laura La Plante is very impressive. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "O Gato e o Canário" ("The Cat and the Canary")
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