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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Last Warning (1929) Laura LaPlante; Dir. Paul Leni





The Cat & The Canary (1927) Laura LaPlante. Dir. by Paul Leni

An American silent horror film adaptation of John Willard's 1922 black comedy play of the same name. Directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, the film stars Laura La Plante as Annabelle West, Forrest Stanley as Charles "Charlie" Wilder, and Creighton Hale as Paul Jones. The plot revolves around the death of Cyrus West, who is Annabelle, Charlie, and Paul's uncle, and the reading of his will 20 years later. Annabelle inherits her uncle's fortune, but when she and her family spend the night in his haunted mansion they are stalked by a mysterious figure. Meanwhile, a lunatic known as "the Cat" escapes from an asylum and hides in the mansion.

The Cat and the Canary is part of a genre of comedy horror films inspired by 1920s Broadway stage plays. Paul Leni's adaptation of Willard's play blended expressionism with humor, a style Leni was notable for and critics recognized as unique. Leni's style of directing made The Cat and the Canary influential in the "old dark house" genre of films popular from the 1930s through the 1950s. The film was one of Universal's early horror productions and is considered "the cornerstone of Universal's school of horror." The play has been filmed five other times, with the most notable in 1939 starring comedic actor Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard.


The Last Warning (1929) is a mystery film directed by Paul Leni. It is a companion piece to Universal Pictures 1927 production of The Cat and the Canary. This was the last film directed by Leni before his death from blood poisoning in Los Angeles on September 2, 1929.

The Last Warning was directed by Paul Leni, a German import who established Universal Studios’ atmospheric style with his 1927 Hollywood debut The Cat and the Canary — this chiller about a murder in an apparently cursed theater stands as one of the few true silent whodunits. Laura La Plante and a young John Boles star.

The Last Warning was re-made in 1939 by Joe May under the title The House of Fear.

Synopsis

Five years after a theater was closed following a murder of one of its actors during a performance, a producer decides to solve the mystery by again staging the play with the remaining cast. During the repeat performance another murder occurs. Eventually it is discovered that the murders were part a ploy devised by the stage manager to sabotage the production.

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