The Last Warning (1929)

Article #924 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 9-25-2003
Posting date: 2-22-2004
Directed by Paul Leni
Featuring Laura La Plante, Montagu Love, Roy D’Arcy

A murder is committed onstage during a performance of a play called ‘The Snare’. Several years later, the theatre reopens in an attempt to stage the same play.

I was having a strong sense of deja vu while watching this bizarre silent movie, and for good reason; I had already seen the 1939 remake called HOUSE OF FEAR. My copy has a bizarre, dissonant soundtrack that is like nothing else I’ve heard during a silent movie; this music along with the almost-psychedelic opening made me think that I was watching a sound movie at first, so I was quite surprised when the first character opened his mouth and title cards started to pop up. It’s all done with an a great deal of style; in fact, it’s almost excessive. Certainly, the middle part of the story in which a succession of scare scenes occur without any real sense of rhyme nor reason is a case where style without substance becomes tedious. I’ll probably watch it again some time to enjoy the stylish direction, but if I want to watch it for the story, I’ll probably opt for the remake.

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