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Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917)

A writer bets a friend that he can write a 10,000-word novel in 24 hours. The friends takes the bet, and gives him the keys to his Baldpate Inn, which has been closed for the winter, so he ... See full summary »

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(novel), (play)
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Cast

Cast overview:
... George Washington Magee
... Mary Norton
... Myra Thornhill (as Elda Furry)
Corene Uzzell ... Mrs. Rhodes
... Mayor Cargan
Armand Cortes ... Lou Max
Warren Cook ... Thomas Hayden (as C. Warren Cook)
... John Bland
... Hall Bentley
Eric Hudson ... Peter the Hermit
Carleton Macy ... Police Chief Kennedy
... Langdon
... Quimby
... Clerk
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Storyline

A writer bets a friend that he can write a 10,000-word novel in 24 hours. The friends takes the bet, and gives him the keys to his Baldpate Inn, which has been closed for the winter, so he can write in complete seclusion. Things start heating up, though, when a succession of people who also have keys to the inn begin showing up. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Mystery | Thriller

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17 October 1917 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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George M. Cohan's play opened on Broadway in New York at the Astor Theater on September 22nd, 1913 and ran for 320 performances. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cohan on the screen, in person!
1 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Although robbed of his voice, it's easy to see why George M. Cohan was regarded as the king of Broadway. He knows all the tricks of the acting trade and exploits them magnificently here from the moment he first strides into view, his back to the camera, and then makes a triumphant tour towards center stage, receiving the plaudits of dozens of stylishly dressed extras along the way. From this spectacular entrance to the final curtain—which he has all to himself—the charismatic Cohan never puts a foot wrong. We love his mannerisms, the way he smooths his hair, his cocky stance, his aggressive, hands-on-hips demeanor.

James Cagney aped Cohan's acting style to a good degree in Yankee Doodle Dandy, but he forgot one very important characteristic. Cohan might be pushy, he might be ruthlessly self-centered, but he backs his self-esteem up with loads of charm. Can you imagine a charming Cagney? No! Cagney is all bluster, but no charm. No wonder Cohan was unimpressed with Cagney's performance. He left out the most telling ingredient of Cohan's unparalleled success.

Because he is so ingratiating, the audience is rooting for Cohan right from the start of this celebrated mystery comedy. True, there are no belly laughs in the play and the intriguingly atmospheric mystery elements often tend to overwhelm the quiet humor of the central situation, but cleverly (if somewhat outrageously) they never wholly succeed.

A great support cast led by the lovely Anna Q. Nilsson and a dazzling Hedda Hopper help maintain the pace. Eric Hudson, in his second of only three movie appearances (he died in 1918), also deserves a special pat on the back.

The movie is well-produced and most capably staged, although some critics might argue that the director tends to overdo all the lightning changes in tinted stock. But I found these atmospheric ploys not only novel but most effective.


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