The Mystic (1925)

Article 3079 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-21-2009
Posting Date: 1-18-2010
Directed by Tod Browning
Featuring Aileen Pringle, Conway Tearle, Mitchell Lewis
Country: USA
What it is: A love story disguised as a crime story about mystics

Three gypsies are recruited by an American con man to take part in the bilking of an heiress. However, when the con man has a change of heart about the plan, he discovers the gypsies aren’t so ready to give up their share…

One of the gypsies plays the part of a mystic who can summon the dead, and the scenes involving her show are fun and eerie; this is what provides the fantastic content to this Tod Browning movie. The story itself is pretty clever; it’s fascinating to watch the way the various parties involved (the heiress, the con man, the police, and the three gypsies) play against each other, with the power constantly shifting from one party to another. Lon Chaney is not in this one, but that’s understandable; there really doesn’t seem to be an ideal part for him here. Aileen Pringle is a lot of fun as the gypsy woman/mystic; whether holding a seance, or casually eating food while the knife-thrower practices his craft with her, she’s a joy to watch. It’s one of those movies that is quite unpredictable, and it’s definitely one of Browning’s better efforts.

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