The Mystery of 13 (1920)

THE MYSTERY OF 13 (1920)
(Serial)
Article #1157 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-15-2001
Posting Date: 10-12-2004
Directed by Francis Ford
Featuring Francis Ford, Rosemary Theby, Nigel de Brulier

A man comes by a map that shows the location of a secret treasure, but runs afoul of a criminal organization known as the ’13’.

I don’t know exactly when it was that serials fell into the standardized patterns that makes up so many of the later ones, but I do know that the early silent serials seemed to have a greater vaiety of situations. This serial has some romantic subplots and unexpected plot twists that most likely would never happen in later serials. Nonetheless, I have to admit to finding this obscurity almost unwatchable. This may not be due to the serial itself as much as it is to my copy of it. At least three chapters are missing altogether, and several of the other chapters seem abbreviated. The narrative jumps all over the place, the print is far enough down the dupe scale that it’s hard to tell one character from another, and after the first episode I spent a lot of my time just scratching my head. I’m not sure about the fantastic aspects, either; the most notable one is that the evil organization dresses up in black robes and hoods, and it gives the movie a slight horror atmosphere at times. So to some extent, commentary is useless; THE MYSTERY OF 13 remains to me something of a mystery.

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