THE STOLEN VOICE (1915)
Article 3857 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-26-2012
Posting Date: 3-6-2012
Directed by Frank Hall Crane
Featuring Robert Warwick, Frances Nelson, George Majeroni
What it is: Romance / melodrama
When a society matron becomes enamored with an opera singer and his beautiful voice, her jealous lover uses hypnotic powers to strip the singer of his voice.
This one ended up on my “ones-that-got-away” list, and almost immediately upon its entry, I was pointed the way to an online copy of the movie at the George Eastman House website, thus allowing me to remove it from the list. The plot description certainly made it look like it was your standard romantic melodrama of the era, a sort of reverse take on the Svengali/Trilby story. As far as the fantastic content goes, the most interesting thing about it is that the evil doctor hypnotizes the singer from a distance rather than directly, pushing the hypnotism element even farther into the realms of fantasy. Still, what ended up really charming me about this movie were the plot developments after the singer loses his voice; he eventually makes his way into silent pictures, and a portion of the movie involves scenes of him acting in them, making this one of the first movies about movies, as well as giving us a movie-within-a-movie scene. I found this touch pretty fun, especially as it leads to one of the wittiest scenes of the movie; without giving away too much, let’s just say that one character’s demise in this movie is almost gleefully ironic. It’s these story surprises that really make this one a fun experience.