Rivaling Mae Busch for the title of Most Deadly Woman in the Laurel and Hardy comedies, Anita Garvin is probably best remembered for taking a shotgun to the hapless duo in the 1930 short Blotto. A year before, Miss Garvin was trying her hand at drama in The Charlatan, a tidy little manor house mystery.
Garvin plays one of the suspects and she has a good motive for murder. The guest of honor (played by Sunrise vamp Margaret Livingston) was in the process of stealing Garvin’s husband when she kicked the bucket.
The Charlatan, like many late silent era films, was made as both a silent and a part-talkie. It seems that the sound sequences are lost and the silent version is all that remains. Considering the state of early talkies, I think that may be a good thing.
Conrad Veidt was announced as the original star but he was already sailing home to Germany and so Holmes Herbert replaced him. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s a well-made, enjoyable little mystery of the Agatha Christie school.