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The Thirteenth Chair (1937)

Passed | | Drama | 7 May 1937 (USA)
Inspector Marney of Scotland Yard travels to Calcutta to investigate the murder of Leonard Lee, a generally despised man in these parts. John Wales, who did consider Lee a friend - his best... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Helen Trent
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John Wales
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Lady Crosby
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...
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Dr. Mason
Robert Coote ...
Stanby
Elsa Buchanan ...
Miss Stanby
Lal Chand Mehra ...
Professor Feringeea
Neil Fitzgerald ...
Constable
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Storyline

Inspector Marney of Scotland Yard travels to Calcutta to investigate the murder of Leonard Lee, a generally despised man in these parts. John Wales, who did consider Lee a friend - his best friend - is a suspect, but he proposes to the Inspector a ploy to discover the identity of the murderer: hold a séance conducted by a medium, Madame Rosalie La Grange. Wales doesn't believe Mme. La Grange will discover the murderer's identity through such hocus pocus, but does believe the process might draw out the murderer in revealing him or herself. Wales invites who he considers suspects - generally those in the upper crust of British society in Calcutta - plus a few red herring attendees so as not to tip the murderer as to the séance's purpose. Upon Mme. La Grange's arrival, she does admit that most of her work is conducted as parlor tricks solely for sheer entertainment, but that when required, she truly does have the ability. As the course of the evening progresses, Mme. La Grange turns from... Written by Huggo

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

7 May 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 13th Chair  »

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 »
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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 20 November 1916 and had 328 performances. Margaret Wycherly played the role of Rosalie La Grange, as she also did in the 1929 film version. See more »

Connections

Version of The Thirteenth Chair (1919) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Murder mystery with séances has its moments
1 October 2014 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

Madame La Grange, psychic medium, admits that "Most of the time it's a fake" when she gives a reading. Tonight, however, she insists that she will play no tricks: she's at the English governor's residence in Calcutta, summoned to assist in investigating the murder of a most unpopular man.

Dame May Witty plays the medium with appropriate gravity and mystery. Madge Evans wears a worried look as the beautiful secretary who is in love with the governor's son. She also, we soon learn, is the mysterious medium's daughter.

Henry Daniell is moody and edgy as a friend of the murder victim. He wants answers from the police, who are represented by Lewis Stone, a Scotland Yard man who's been shipped in specially to look into the case.

A couple of spooky séance scenes succeed in sending some shivers down the spine. Particularly effective is a bit when the lights are off and the screen is totally black for a long moment: we hear voices, then Daniell asking "Who killed you?"—and then just perfect silence and darkness for what seems an exceptionally long stretch. (When they do finally turn on the lights, there's another dead body.)

It's a solid if not brilliant plot; it builds nicely to an exciting climax and a surprising solution.

Witty has the most colorful role and is clearly the featured performer here; she is quite good. Lewis Stone's role, I have to say, I found annoying – he is one sententious police detective but not exactly the smartest. (Judge Hardy would never have come so close to totally blowing a case.)

This one won't cause any nightmares but it is atmospheric, fast-moving, and plenty entertaining.


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