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The Hole in the Wall (1929)

 |  Drama, Mystery  |  27 April 1929 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 51 users  
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Mrs. Ramsey sent Jean Oliver to prison on a false charge. To get even, Jean (disguised as Madame Mystera) plans to kidnap her daughter and turn her into a thief. Love entanglements with a ... See full summary »

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Title: The Hole in the Wall (1929)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
The Fox
David Newell ...
Gordon Grant
Nellie Savage ...
Madame Mystera
...
Alan Brooks ...
Jim
Louise Closser Hale ...
Mrs. Ramsay
Katherine Emmet ...
Mrs. Carlake
Marcia Kagno ...
Marcia
Barry Macollum ...
Dogface
George MacQuarrie ...
Inspector
Helen Crane ...
Mrs. Lyons
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Storyline

Mrs. Ramsey sent Jean Oliver to prison on a false charge. To get even, Jean (disguised as Madame Mystera) plans to kidnap her daughter and turn her into a thief. Love entanglements with a gangster known as "The Fox" and newspaperman Grant complicate her plans. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

revenge | based on play | See All (2) »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 April 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grilhão Eterno  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(MovieTone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film marks the first appearance of Edward G. Robinson as a gangster. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Claudette Colbert (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

The holes in the plot line
17 July 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

"The Hole in the Wall" is an early part-talkie, well-directed by Robert Florey but saddled with a plot that Tod Browning might have cooked up for Lon Chaney on a bad day. Several themes beloved of Browning (and often used in Chaney's movies) are prominently used here, including a gang of crooks and phoney mediums, and (shades of "West of Zanzibar") a plot to corrupt an innocent girl in order to get revenge on her parent. The "hole in the wall" in this movie's title is in the crooks' hideout: it's a peephole with a periscope, which the phoney medium uses to spy on her victims, so that she can gain information about them before she meets them, and impress her victims with her "psychic" abilities.

Claudette Colbert (still learning the techniques of film acting) stars as Jean Oliver, who was sent to prison on false testimony by snooty society dame Mrs Ramsay. After spending several years in prison, now Jean is out and hell-bent on revenge. She plans to kidnap Mrs Ramsay's little daughter Marcia, and raise the girl as a thief in a Fagin-like environment. Jean hopes that Marcia will grow up to be an habitual thief, get arrested and acquire a criminal record ... and then Jean will get her revenge by revealing herself to Mrs Ramsay as the person responsible for her daughter's corruption.

The climax of the film is meant to be very exciting, when little golden-haired Marcia is a prisoner in the dockyards, trapped on a quayside ladder while the tide rises. Unfortunately, the untalented child actress who plays the kidnap victim keeps screeching "Mama! Mama!" over and over, on a very bad soundtrack. We're supposed to be concerned about the plight of a kidnapped child who's in danger of drowning, but I kept wishing the brat would shut her gob and quit yapping.

The soundtrack is VERY bad, and I don't think it's just because I saw a very scratchy old print of this film. In the late 1920s and early 30s, the Fox Movietone method of sound recording (which this film uses) was vastly inferior to the Vitaphone process used by Warner Brothers. I give credit to director Florey and his screenwriter (Pierre Collinge) for intelligently shaping the story to incorporate sound effects legitimately, at a time when many part-talkie films used sound effects merely for stunt purposes. But the dialogue is badly written, apart from its poor sound fidelity. Groucho Marx, who worked with the French-born Florey in "The Cocoanuts" later this same year, claimed that Florey had difficulty speaking English ... which might explain why Florey allowed such wretchedly bad dialogue to get past him in "The Hole in the Wall".

There's an exciting scene of a train crash on an elevated railway, and throughout the film the photography is excellent, as are the lighting and the shot-framing. This film's many good points outweigh its numerous bad points.


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