Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance ... See full summary »
Gunner and Bucker are pals who work as riveters. Whenever Bucker gets the urge to marry, which is often, Gunner will hit on his girl to see if she is true or not. So far, Gunner has not ... See full summary »
Prizefighter Mason loses his opening fight so wife Rose leaves him for Hollywood. Without her around Mason trains and starts winning. Rose comes back and wants Mason to dump his manager Regan and replace him with her secret lover Lewis.
Fingers is planning a half-million-dollar bank robbery in gang boss Cobra Collins' territory. Fingers' moll Connie tries to bluff Cobra into thinking the hit won't be for another week when the call comes through saying it's now.
Mike Morgan creates the illusions that magicians use in their shows. While his business is Miracles for Sale, his hobby is exposing fake spiritualists. At the club, he is invited to attend ... See full summary »
Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Some years back, this film had been scheduled for broadcast on TCM UK as part of a Tod Browning retrospective but what they actually showed was the 1937 remake!; my brother had watched it (and, in hindsight, it followed the original pretty much scene-for-scene, even down to the set design) though no classic, he said it was a far more satisfying viewing experience than the incredibly creaky earlier version
This being the first collaboration between Browning and Bela Lugosi, I had high hopes for it but these were quashed when it became evident after the first reel of tedious conversation that the film's main concern was to appease the still-novel sound technique, and consequently the result is stagey and extremely static. The thriller plot isn't exactly exciting either; even less appetizing is the ostensible British-Indian setting (with the characters' affected accents and upper-class demeanor not to mention the over-use of corny idiosyncratic idioms such as "I say", "rather" and "now look here" rendering the whole risible more than anything else)!
Apart from this, there are a few unintended howlers: Margaret Wycherly (as a fake medium) pleads with Police Inspector Lugosi (if anything, his undeniable screen presence is already evident) to give her some time to 'work out' who the culprit of the double-murder really is (the evidence points to her own daughter, played by Leila Hyams!) she hears a tapping and is deluded into thinking that the spirit world has genuinely made contact with her but then Lugosi enters the room and, in his unmistakable accent, straight-facedly tells her "I knocked twice you didn't hear me!", at which my brother and I almost fell to the floor in convulsions of laughter!!; the editing is really sloppy, too: during one high-angle shot of the main set, a mike is seen being rapidly pulled up out of camera range and even worse are a couple of instances where a person walks off-screen, ostensibly into the next shot, to another part of the set but each shot is held on the other actors for an absurdly long time, so that it appears to take forever for this person to walk just a few paces!!
THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR marks the third non-horror Browning Talkie that I've watched even if both this and MIRACLES FOR SALE (1939) deal with murder and occultism and could, therefore, still be linked to the genre. Much has been said about the director's apparent slackening with the coming of Sound: however, flawed though they may be, the 4 straight horror films he did throughout the 30s are infinitely better than the rest which I've always found stylish and bizarre enough to suggest that Browning wasn't as much at sea during this period as has been suggested
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