A producer decides to reopen a theater, that had been closed five years previously when one of the actors was murdered during a performance, by staging a production of the same play with ... See full summary »
Rich old Cyrus West's relatives are waiting for him to die so they can inherit. But he stipulates that his will be read 20 years after his death. On the appointed day his expectant heirs arrive at his brooding mansion. The will is read and it turns out that Annabelle West, the only heir with his name left, inherits, if she is deemed sane. If she isn't, the money and some diamonds go to someone else, whose name is in a sealed envelope. Before he can reveal the identity of her successor to Annabelle, Mr. Crosby, the lawyer, disappears. The first in a series of mysterious events, some of which point to Annabelle in fact being unstable.Written by
Writer/director Robert F. Hill not only wrote the adaptation for this film but also served as a sort of assistant/associate director for Paul Leni. Leni, a German, didn't speak much English, and Hill spoke German, so he acted as a liaison between Leni and the cast and crew. See more »
New York State requires civil attorneys to halt disbursement of a legacy, pending the decision of a probate court, if they discover evidence of tampering with the will pertaining thereto. After Crosby found that the safe had been opened recently, he should have canceled the reading of the Cyrus West will. See more »
On a lonely pine-clad hill overlooking the Hudson, stood the grotesque mansion of an eccentric millionaire...
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Kino International distributed a video with the original 1927 musical setting compiled by James Bradford and adapted and performed by Eric Beheim and "The Cyrus West Players." It was produced by David Shepard using film materials from the David Bradley collection, and copyrighted in 1997 by Film Preservation Associates. The running time was 82 minutes. See more »
I had seen The Cat and the Canary several times before I sat down to watch the Kino transfer. It has amazing clarity, a beautifully appropriate score, and does more than ample justice to one of the cornerstones of the silent era and the horror genre respectively. The story is simple enough: a wealthy man dies leaving his money to an heir detailed in a sealed envelope for all to see years after his death. We are introduced to the main star of the film early on - the eerie, creepy, web-strewn house. A house filled with long-flowing drapes, creaky(we must imagine) steps, mazes of twisting hallways, a series of hidden compartments and passageways all over, and the obligatory servant that hangs on to her job years after her employer has passed away. Director Paul Leni knows how to set the mood and make atmosphere reign supreme as his camera lens moves to shadows and light with the greatest of ease. The acting complements the atmosphere with great turns really by all involved. Tully Marshall, though in a small role, makes more impact with his little screen time than other actors would be capable of doing. Martha Mattox, as Mammy Pleasant of all names, is exceedingly creepy and effective as the old maid of the manse. Beautiful Laura LaPlante is the heiress who must spend a night amidst jealous, vengeful, greedy relatives. LaPlante has an exquisite smile and grace about her and effectively can go from light horror to light comedy. But Leni makes more than just a horror film here with Creighton Hale as Paul Jones, LaPlante's cousin and love interest. With Hale Leni relies heavily on mixing horror and atmosphere with broad light comedy. Hale, with his Harold Lloyd glasses and look, really is quite amusing as a bungling, easily frightened man who gets to relive his adolescent crush. The other actors are just dandy(seems to work in a review for a film this old) and the killer is not terribly hard to figure out - but that is secondary to the mood, tension, pace, and characterizations that lead to his/her unveiling. The Kino print is really just gorgeous. The music is just right and the title cards are perfect. Two scenes in particular stand out for me as classic Leni: One, Mattox, with candle in hand walking down a corridor with a row of windows draped and blowing as the winds blows indiscriminately and two, Tully Marshall about to read the name of the heir should LaPlante be proved to be crazy. Wonderfully shot! An ageless classic of the silent cinema for sure.
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