Whispering Wires (1926)

Article 4668 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-31-2014
Directed by Albert Ray
Featuring Anita Stewart, Edmund Burns, Charles Clary
Country: USA
What it is: “Old Dark House” mystery

An inventor who has escaped from prison embarks on a spree of vengeance against the family of the man who sent him to jail.

This movie was just recently consigned to my “ones that got away” list, but fortunately, it turned out that a friend of mine had a copy and allowed me access to it, for which I am very grateful. I’d read about this movie beforehand from the book “American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films 1913-1929”, which I highly recommend (consider this a plug), and it pointed out that the movie somewhat shoots itself in the foot early on by giving away the identity of the killer as well as the method of murder very early on in the proceedings, and though this does slightly increase the suspense value of a couple of scenes, I think it loses a lot more than it gains by giving away the game so early. But then, I found myself wondering if suspense and mystery was what the movie was really going for. Not only does the movie have too many comic relief characters (two incompetent assistant detectives and the scared black manservant), but I wouldn’t be surprised that if you timed it out, a good sixty to seventy percent of the footage of the movie is spent on those three characters, and they’re far from consistently funny. The end result is more tiresome than entertaining. This is certainly one of the lesser of the silent “old dark house” movies.

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