THE TWIN PAWNS (1919)
Article 4080 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Leonce Perret
Featuring Mae Murray, Warner Oland, Jack W. Johnston
What it is: Melodrama
An opportunist discovers that an impoverished waif is in reality a missing twin daughter of an industrialist. He uses the information in a plot to get hold of the industrialist’s fortune… and he’s not above using murder to further his ambitions.
The fantastic content is of the horror variety, but it doesn’t come into play until the last third of the movie; the elements involve fake ghosts and incarceration in an asylum. Yet neither element is enough to really shift the movie out of the realm of melodrama. The story itself is pretty far-fetched, both in terms of the villain’s plot itself, but how the various parties choose to react to the plot as it unveils. It is interesting to see Warner Oland from his pre-Chan days; like Basil Rathbone, he seems to have mostly played heavies and villains, but gained fame by playing a famous detective. All in all, this one was pretty minor.