28 May 2005 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Forget the dog; let's see more of Edna.
The top-billed performer in 'The Silent Accuser' is Peter the Great, an Alsatian dog who resembles Rin Tin Tin ... and this film appears to be MGM's attempt to copy the success of the highly profitable Rin Tin Tin movies.
Peter is the faithful canine companion of Jack. When Jack's evil stepbrother Phil murders his own father (Jack's stepfather), Jack is wrongly convicted of the crime. His girlfriend tries to find evidence to clear him while the clock ticks towards the moment of Jack's execution. But the star of this movie is Peter, so there are lots of scenes scripted to let the dog do his stuff. Peter sneaks into prison and out again with laughable ease, usually by way of the chimney. I noticed that the soot didn't show on Peter's coat, and I put this down to his dark fur concealing it. But then I noticed that Peter emerges from the chimney flue without shaking himself, which implies that there was no soot to begin with. Anyway, Peter faithfully smuggles notes between Jack and Barbara while leaping aboard moving trains, and so forth. Presumably the dog had no stunt double.
The contrivances of the plot are excusable, since the whole point of this movie is the dog's stunts. The climactic brawl between Jack and Phil is well-edited, but several contrived events are necessary to trundle the scene into place.
As I'm not very interested in movies about dogs, for me the revelation of this film was Edna Tichenor as a sloe-eyed henchwoman of Phil. As the spider-woman in Tod Browning's 'The Show', Tichenor was seen only from the neck upward: here, wearing proto-Goth makeup, she uses her entire body quite seductively in her vamp character. I was going to rate this movie only 4 out of 10, but I liked Edna Tichenor enough to make it 5 in 10.