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The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

Passed | | Drama, Mystery | 19 October 1929 (USA)
Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance ... See full summary »


Tod Browning


Bayard Veiller (from the play by), Elliott J. Clawson (dialogue continuity) (as Elliott Clawson)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Conrad Nagel ... Richard Crosby
Leila Hyams ... Helen O'Neill
Margaret Wycherly ... Madame Rosalie La Grange
Helene Millard ... Mary Eastwood
Holmes Herbert ... Sir Roscoe Crosby
Mary Forbes ... Lady Crosby
Bela Lugosi ... Inspector Delzante
John Davidson ... Edward Wales
Charles Quatermaine Charles Quatermaine ... Dr. Philip Mason (as Charles Quartermaine)
Moon Carroll Moon Carroll ... Helen Trent
Cyril Chadwick Cyril Chadwick ... Brandon Trent
Bertram Johns Bertram Johns ... Howard Standish
Gretchen Holland Gretchen Holland ... Grace Standish
Frank Leigh Frank Leigh ... Professor Feringeea
Clarence Geldart ... Commissioner Grimshaw (as Clarence Geldert)


Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


All Talking Drama of a Woman's Struggles Against the Great Unknown (Print Ad-Newberry Observer, ((Newberry, SC)) 11 March 1930) See more »


Drama | Mystery








Release Date:

19 October 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 13th Chair See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The play opened in New York City, New York on 20 November 1916 and ran for 328 performances. The cast included Margaret Wycherly, who is also in the movie, and Walter Young. See more »


There are several scenes where it appears the actors are waiting for their cues before they start talking; most notably when the Inspector calls them all into the room to recreate the seance. See more »


Inspector Delzante: So there are two Helens...
See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM also released this movie in a silent version at 1628.55 m in length. See more »


Version of The Thirteenth Chair (1919) See more »

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User Reviews

A Small Triumph For Miss Wycherly & Mr. Lugosi
24 January 2002 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

In British India, a séance in Calcutta leaves a dead man sitting in THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR...

Under the able direction of Tod Browning, this antique talkie weaves a taut tale of murder & suspense. The oppressive atmosphere & limited use of sets creates a claustrophobic sense of eerie unreality. The excellent utilization of sound during the sequences of almost total screen blackout demonstrate the director's understanding of the potentialities of the new medium.

Conrad Nagel & Leila Hyams receive top billing, but they have little to do beyond looking frightened or concerned. This they accomplish quite well.

The film is dominated by two fascinating performances. Bela Lugosi makes a rather bizarre police inspector, his mesmeric eyes, claw-like hands & compelling voice giving an early demonstration of the qualities which would make him one of the screen's top monsters (Lugosi & Browning would have to wait two more years for the huge success of their next collaboration, DRACULA). Elderly Margaret Wycherly, as a wily Irish medium, is a delight and easily steals scene after scene. It is she who comes up with the plan to ultimately unmask the killer.

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