A gray-haired convict, within the shadows of the gallows, tells his story to the prison chaplain beginning twenty years earlier when he was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.


(based on a play by), (adaptation)


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Cast overview:
Jim Warren
Mollie Burke
Norma Davis / Norma Powers
Phil Powers
Harry Silvers
Alva Clarke (Joel Clarke in credits)
Walter Pritchard
John M. Sullivan ...
Father Ryan (as J. M. Sullivan)
Alderman Conners
John Craig ...
'Fake' Chaplain
Tim - Detective


A gray-haired convict, within the shadows of the gallows, tells his story to the prison chaplain beginning twenty years earlier when he was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama





Release Date:

29 August 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Silêncio  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However, because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and may have never been televised. See more »

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User Reviews

Masterful Performance by Clive Brook
27 April 2015 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

"Silence" was Peggy Shannon's third film. She had been signed by Paramount after Clara Bow had had to pull out of a couple of films due to health reasons - one was "City Streets", Sylvia Sidney was given that one, the other was "The Secret Call" and Peggy impressed with the way she handled the role of the revengeful telephonist after only just arriving in Hollywood. "Silence" was another "replacement" job, Mary Brian was the original choice but Peggy picked up the moniker "The Typical New American Girl" during the film's publicity. She wasn't the star of the film, that belonged to Clive Brook and he gave a masterful performance as the Cockney crook awaiting the gallows as the prison band rehearses "When I Take My Sugar to Tea". Most people feel he is protecting someone - but who?

His life has been spent in and out of prison and his stint in 1912 sees him released to the tidings that Norma (Peggy Shannon) the girl he loves has been pinched for receiving stolen money. Warren is desperate to help her and Molly (Marjorie Rambeau) is the only person who is willing to speak up for the girl. She exacts a terrible promise from Jim - he must marry her in return for her help. The upshot is that when everything is put right he can't go through with the wedding and rushes to Norma's side to do the right thing by her (she is having his baby) - only to find she has already married Phil Powers (Willard Robertson)!!

Jump to 1931 and a down and out Warren has a "shell game" booth at a local county fair. One of his curious customers is a beautiful girl, Norma, who, he soon realises, is his daughter. Also with him is bad egg Harry Silvers (John Wray) who gets his hands on some sensational letters that Jim has carried around with him all these years - and is determined to blackmail Powers with them. In an unusual twist Powers and Warren unite to keep Norma from scandal so that her marriage to blue blood Charles Starret can still go ahead. Silvers gets threatening, a shot rings out and suddenly Warren is in the condemned cell.

Written by Max Marcin who had penned the original play as well as the 1926 Cecil B. DeMille production which starred Vera Reynolds. Virginia Pearson (one of the early vamps) played Molly and she featured well down the cast. For all her 2nd billing Marjorie Rambeau didn't have a lot to do - maybe her name was used as "box office bait"!! Once the wedding was called off she was out of the picture and the movie really belonged to Clive Brook. Seeing him in this movie you can't really wonder at his popularity in those early talkie years!!

Very Recommended.

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