The Bells (1926)

THE BELLS (1926)
Article #29 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 4-14-2001
Posting date: 8-27-2001

In this movie, an innkeeper (Lionel Barrymore) aspiring to the position of burgomaster wins friends (and votes) by giving away free drinks, but depletes his funds in the process. To get out of debt, her murders a rich traveler for his money. After he is elected, the traveler’s brother shows up, demanding that the murderer be found, and he brings along a mesmerist (Boris Karloff) who guarantees he can find the murderer.

This movie was the fifth version of a popular stage play, and is essentially a variation on Crime and Punishment; the innkeeper finds himself haunted by his murder, and dreams of the mesmerist trapping him into admitting his crimes. It’s nothing great, but it is an adaquate time killer, with good performances from both Barrymore and Gustav von Seyffertitz (from SPARROWS and THE BAT WHISPERS), but the main attraction here is Karloff, in one of his few good roles during the silent era. As the mesmerist, he is dressed and made up to resemble Werner Krauss in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and he seems to be having quite a bit of fun.

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