The Unholy Night (1929)

Passed   |    |  Mystery, Thriller


The Unholy Night (1929) Poster

On a dark foggy London night, someone tries to strangle Lord Montague, but he escapes. Only to discover the four other men who did get killed were old regimental comrades in Gallipoli. When... See full summary »


5.9/10
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  • Boris Karloff and Dorothy Sebastian in The Unholy Night (1929)
  • The Unholy Night (1929)
  • Boris Karloff and Dorothy Sebastian in The Unholy Night (1929)
  • Sydney Jarvis and Dorothy Sebastian in The Unholy Night (1929)
  • The Unholy Night (1929)
  • George Cooper and Dorothy Sebastian in The Unholy Night (1929)

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29 April 2014 | kevinolzak
4
| Roland Young and Boris Karloff
1929's "The Unholy Night" was one of a handful of features directed by actor Lionel Barrymore, who seems far better at atmospherics than getting decent performances. A London fog is the setting for mayhem, as members of a regiment from the Gallipoli Campaign of World War 1 are targeted for death. The opening finds Scotland Yard working with Lord Montague (Roland Young) to use his home for a reunion that should bring the killer out into the open, and it works; unfortunately, the bodies pile up for over an hour before a solution turns up in a séance conducted by an Oriental mystic (Sojin). The working title, and British, of this early talkie was "The Green Ghost," which might have worked better for an MGM feature, particularly with the uncredited appearance of Boris Karloff as Abdoul Muhammad Bey (related to Ardath Bey?), the Turkish lawyer in love with hysterical Lady Efra Cavender (Dorothy Sebastian). Dorothy was a wonderful actress but she, like Boris, is so over the top that the character cannot be taken seriously, making for a lengthier 94 minutes. Barrymore and Karloff first worked together in 1926's "The Bells," and last did so in 1931's "The Yellow Ticket," but this was the only time Karloff was directed by him. Considering he has two very important scenes, it's a shame Boris was the lone cast member unbilled, but his foreign accent and slow delivery would undoubtedly be better played by Bela Lugosi, who had recently starred in MGM's "The Thirteenth Chair." Having made his talkie debut as a Soudanese servant in Fox's "Behind That Curtain," Karloff remains stuck in ethnic mode, while his broad, unnatural, overly theatrical performing style must be chalked up to bad direction. It was indeed fortunate that his starmaking triumph in "Frankenstein" resulted from his exquisite talent in mime, while the numerous different roles done in between helped him better adapt to sound film, and escape the usual ethnic villain roles he was often saddled with in silents.

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