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Robert Z. Leonard
C. Aubrey Smith
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Bibi is a world class escape artist, but he cannot escape the false murder charge that is placed on him. Max has killed Bourrelier before he was removed from the will so that he will be rich when he marries Cecile. Together with Vera, they put the blame on Bibi, who is a romantic rival to Max, and he is sentenced to death. But Bibi escapes before his execution and hides in Herman's secret cellar. When he learns that Max is dying, Bibi goes to his house for his confession, but Max dies before it is told to anyone else. So Bibi, has just one chance, and he goes to Dr. Gorin who will make him look like Max so that he can clear his name and put the blame where it belongs - on Max, even in death. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Well-made, if far-fetched, drama from MGM has John Gilbert playing Cheri-Bibi, a famous escape artist who plans on marrying a rich woman (Leila Hyams) even though her father (C. Aubrey Smith) is against it. The father is killed after an argument with Cheri, which causes a detective (Lewis Stone) to arrest him. Facing death in the matter of hours Cheri escapes from prison to prove his innocence. It's rumored that this film was originally meant for Lon Chaney, which if true would be interesting since it's also rumored that Chaney turned down THE SHOW, which then went to Gilbert. Whatever the truth is, this remains a pretty solid "B" movie that has some great acting and a pretty good story. I'm sure many might go into a title like this expecting some type of horror picture but it's pretty much a straight drama with some pretty tense scenes. I think the film takes a turn for the worse in the final fifteen-minutes when Gilbert takes the identity of the man he believes did the real killer. The two didn't look like one another but even if they did manage to fake people their different voices would have certainly given them away. Gilbert turns in another winning performance and what's so nice here is how incredibly charming he is. The early scenes with him doing the magic tricks had him "acting" to large crowds and I thought the charm came through just like you'd expect a real magician to do. Being Gilbert we also get a love story, which has the actor delivering soft lines and doing a nice job with it. Hyams is much better here than she was in her previous film (WAY OF A SAILOR) with Gilbert. The two come across like a real couple and have some pretty good scenes together. Lewis Stone turns in a fine supporting performance as does Jean Hersholt, Natalie Moorhead and Ian Keith. Smith only appears at the start of the film but he too adds nice support. This film was adapted from a novel by Gaston Leroux and for the most part it's pretty successful. I'm sure the original story had more magic but I guess you can only expect so much from a film like this. The 72-minute running time flies by without too many slow spots and in the end it's yet another film to prove that Gilbert did have a voice and he knew how to use it.
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