The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Mystery


The Thirteenth Chair (1929) Poster

Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance ... See full summary »


5.9/10
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Director:

Tod Browning

Writers:

Bayard Veiller (from the play by), Elliott J. Clawson (dialogue continuity)

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24 January 2002 | Ron Oliver
10
| A Small Triumph For Miss Wycherly & Mr. Lugosi
In British India, a séance in Calcutta leaves a dead man sitting in THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR...

Under the able direction of Tod Browning, this antique talkie weaves a taut tale of murder & suspense. The oppressive atmosphere & limited use of sets creates a claustrophobic sense of eerie unreality. The excellent utilization of sound during the sequences of almost total screen blackout demonstrate the director's understanding of the potentialities of the new medium.

Conrad Nagel & Leila Hyams receive top billing, but they have little to do beyond looking frightened or concerned. This they accomplish quite well.

The film is dominated by two fascinating performances. Bela Lugosi makes a rather bizarre police inspector, his mesmeric eyes, claw-like hands & compelling voice giving an early demonstration of the qualities which would make him one of the screen's top monsters (Lugosi & Browning would have to wait two more years for the huge success of their next collaboration, DRACULA). Elderly Margaret Wycherly, as a wily Irish medium, is a delight and easily steals scene after scene. It is she who comes up with the plan to ultimately unmask the killer.

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