IMDb > The Thirteenth Hour (1927)

The Thirteenth Hour (1927) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
13 October 1927 (USA) See more »
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Tagline:
What Happens when mystery and drama stalk at The 13th hour See more »
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Lionel Barrymore is shaggier than the dog See more (2 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Lionel Barrymore ... Prof. Leroy
Jacqueline Gadsden ... Mary Lyle (as Jacquelin Gadsdon)
Charles Delaney ... Matt Gray
Fred Kelsey ... Det. Shaw
Polly Moran ... Polly
Napoleon the Dog ... The Dog
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sôjin Kamiyama ... Minor Role (uncredited)
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Directed by
Chester M. Franklin 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Chester M. Franklin  screenplay
Chester M. Franklin  story
Douglas Furber  screenplay
Douglas Furber  story
Edward T. Lowe Jr. 
Wellyn Totman  titles

Cinematography by
Max Fabian  (as Maximilian Fabian)
 
Film Editing by
Dan Sharits 
 
Art Department
Eugene Hornboestel .... sets (as Eugene Hornbostel)
 

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Additional Details

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Runtime:
60 min | Sweden:52 min
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Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Lionel Barrymore is shaggier than the dog, 16 April 2003
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The script and direction of this MGM movie 'The Thirteenth Hour' are credited(?) to Chester Franklin, whom I've never heard of ... but I kept checking the credits to see if perhaps this movie was actually scripted and directed by Tod Browning, who was under contract to MGM at this same time (and who frequently worked with Lionel Barrymore, the star of this film). Browning was notorious for building films around set-pieces: sequences which provoked unusual images onscreen, but which didn't necessarily build to a coherent plot or narrative. At one point during his MGM years, Browning tried to get front-office approval for a movie starring Lon Chaney as a mad surgeon who grafts gorillas' heads onto women's bodies and vice versa, which would certainly make for some interesting film footage: the project was deep-sixed because Browning couldn't come up with any plausible reason for WHY Chaney's character would be doing such a thing.

This whole movie is just like that. 'The Thirteenth Hour' is completely implausible, and seems to have been cobbled together as an actor's exercise... giving Lionel Barrymore thin excuses to ponce across the screen in weird get-ups, while giving director Tod Browning (oops, I meant Chester Franklin) pretexts for interesting visual compositions which don't fit into a coherent storyline. This is meant to be a spooky suspense film, but I kept laughing.

Barrymore plays Professor Leroy, who lives in a Charles Addams-style house, chock-full of trap doors, secret panels, and galloping furniture ... all of which he operates via a switchboard. You might guess that a chappy like Leroy would have no need of a hobby, but you'd be wrong. Periodically, Leroy goes forth to commit a moonlight murder, which he is always careful to perpetrate at one o'clock in the morning. (Hence the movie's title.)

Now get this: the way Leroy looks when he commits the murders is his TRUE appearance, whereas the rest of the time (when he's not killing anybody) he's always whiskered up in some ridiculous disguise. This reminds me of Tod Browning's 'The Blackbird', in which a criminal spends his off-hours disguised as his own (nonexistent) twin brother, the local do-gooder. To supply an alibi for his murderous meanderings, Leroy keeps a wax dummy of himself. When he takes off his disguise to commit murder, Leroy attaches the disguise to the dummy and leaves it propped up in the window so that all the neighbours will see that Leroy was home at 1.00am when the murders took place. Brilliant, eh?

SPOILERS GALORE. For some reason, Professor Leroy needs a secretary. He brings into his home an innocent brunette named Mary (of course) who knows nothing of his criminal career and who betrays him accidentally. I kept thinking of Tod Browning movies such as 'The Big City' and 'The Unholy Three', in which the criminal endeavour disguised as a legitimate business is accidentally exposed by the only honest employee who's oblivious to the criminal shenanigans.

The cops suspect Leroy of the murders ... but this is one of those movies where the cops are all morons, so Leroy fools them easily. Well, all except one. Detective Shaw has an Alsatian named Rex, and the police dog is brainier than everybody else in this movie. Guess who solves the case.

'The Thirteenth Hour' is unintentionally funny. I'm a Tod Browning fan, so I was gobsmacked to discover a film which apparently wasn't made by Browning yet which apes his distinctive style so thoroughly. Unfortunately, this movie has most of the flaws of Tod Browning's movies with very few of their merits. 'The Thirteenth Hour' is very nearly MGM's most incoherent and implausible production of 1927, edged out narrowly for those dubious honours by 'London After Midnight'. Even the usually reliable MGM stalwart Polly Moran falls below her usual standard in this movie. I'll rate 'The Thirteenth Hour' 3 points out of 10.

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