Paul Leni didn’t make many Hollywood films before his untimely death but the few he did make are pretty darn amazing. The Last Warning isn’t famous but it deserves to be, a delightful blend of German directing virtuosity and American star power.
Murder most theatrical! A major star dies a mysterious death on the stage but when his body is stolen, the case goes cold. Years later, his best friend gathers the entire cast to restage the play in order to unmask the killer but someone wants to make darn sure that the show never goes on and their methods are rather… permanent…
We’re heading back to Germany with something that often gets described as a carnival nightmare. I’m not sure if I would go so far but it is marvelously creepy and stylish. Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary) designed and directed this beautiful film, which takes place in a wax museum. Future Hollywood director Wilhelm (William) Dieterle is the leading man, a writer who must come up with creepy tales for the exhibit. Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss and Emil Jannings play the wax men.
The Cat and the Canary is a tried and true silent crowdpleaser. An old dark house comedy, it follows the adventures of a very eccentric group of people spending the night in, you guessed it, an old dark house. I am going to review the film but also share some background on director Paul Leni and the cast. Plus, I will be discussing the talkie revolution and the myths about silent to sound transition. Lots of good stuff, if I do say so myself.
An author takes a job writing tales for the figures in a wax museum. What could possibly go wrong? Other than being dragged into his own nightmare world, of course.
The Location: Old Dark House. Time: Dark and Stormy Night. The Will: Laura La Plante will inherit a fortune if she can prove she is sane. The Problem: One of the many guests present is determined to drive her insane– and murder anyone who gets in the way! Thrills, chills, laughs, gorgeous cinematography and more character actors than you can shake a femur at. A great introduction to silent films.
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.
The murderer reveals himself and it’s… Cousin Charles! Laura La Plante gets out safe and sane.
If it were a desert it would be: Turtle trifle. Dark, fun and full of nuts.
Ready my full-length review here.
Availability: Released on DVD and via streaming.
A young author (Wilhelm Dieterle) is hired by the owner of a wax museum to write tales about his most popular figures, Haroun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. Entranced by his new boss’s pretty daughter (Olga Belajeff) the author sets to work writing about the wax figures. With each new story, the author and his new friend find themselves pulled inside the progressively nightmarish worlds that he has invented.
Continue reading “Waxworks (1924) A Silent Film Review”
Why do eccentric millionaires always do this? Die and leave strange wills, that is. This time around, a group of would-be heirs gather to see who gets the cash. Murder ensues. Laura La Plante is the heiress who must solve the mystery before she is permanently eliminated from the succession.