13 April 2019 | boblipton
Even A Comedy Has To Make Sense
Let me see if I've got this straight. Lionel Barrymore goes around strangling women and stealing their jewels between midnight and one. The rest of the time, he's a famous criminologist who's offering a large cash reward for his own capture. He's indicated to his secretary, Jacqueline Gadsdon, that he has romantic interests in her, which repulses her because she likes Charles Delaney, or perhaps his dog, Napoleon, who are looking for the fiend. When Delaney and Napoleon go to see Miss Gadsdon, she's been taken by the unseen people who live in the closets and drapes of the house, but are much too shy to do more than extend a clawed hand to grab their victims. Meanwhile Fred Kelsey is there with his badge and gun, because... and so it Polly Moran.
It looks like this was intended to be a follow-up to be a burlesque of those Old Dark House shows, but even a comedy has to make some internal sense, and this makes none. Perhaps that is why Napoleon the Dog seems to be the only character who has a clue. You never expect Fred Kelsey to do more than show up and bluster, but this one refuses to make any sense in my mind. There are some indications that Barrymore's role was originally intended for Lon Chaney, perhaps under the direction of Tod Browning. I would suspect that the writer of THE MYSTERY OF THE LEAPING FISH thought the premise was silly, convinced the star of the same, and left it to Chester Franklin to write and direct this one.