Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917)

Article 2285 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-27-2007
Posting Date: 11-14-2007
Directed by Hugh Ford
Featuring George M. Cohan, Anna Q. Nilsson, Hedda Hopper

A writer of melodramatic novels takes a bet that he can write a novel in 24 hours, and is allowed to use Baldpate Inn as his place to do this as it is closed and he is unlikely to be interrupted. However, (as is obvious from the title), he doesn’t have the only key to Baldpate inn…

This is the third version of this popular melodrama that I’ve seen to date, as well as the earliest. I don’t know how close it is to the Earl Derr Biggers novel, but I’m willing to bet it’s fairly close to George M. Cohan’s play version, seeing how Cohan himself appears in the lead role. This was his first of only a handful of screen appearances, and he does a fine job. It’s still fairly short on fantastic content; outside of the possibility of it falling into the “old dark house” genre, the only other element is that the character of the misogynistic hermit (perhaps the most entertaining “guest” at Baldpate inn) occasionally pretends to be a ghost. The plot is far-fetched and sometimes confusing, and the fact that some sections of the plot are replaced by title cards doesn’t help, but I like the backstory, and there’s definitely an air of parody to the proceedings. At this point of time, I’d have to say it’s my favorite version of the story. My favorite moment; the reaction of the police chief when he’s handed two hundred thousand dollars.



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