Lynn Claymore (Francis X. Bushman Jr.) is the heir of an estate in the Florida Everglades. The estate belonged to an uncle he never knew he had. The mansion has been closed since the death of his uncle. He visits the estate with his lawyer Richard Mason (Jack Perrin) to claim his inheritance. Also with him is his valet Trohelius Snapp (Martin Turner). As they near the house Claymore thinks he sees smoke.
Soon after the housekeeper, Mrs. Hart (Nora Cecil), arrives with Mr. Samuel Lund (Charles Belcher), a long time servant. Lund is in a wheelchair. Five years ago he was in an accident that left him paralyzed. Also in tow is Otis (Al Hallett) the butler.
Soon there is a call for help and a young woman staggers in and falls to the floor. When she come to, she begs Claymore to shelter her. She says someone is after her. He has her taken to a room to rest. In her room she signals to an Oriental man who is out on the lawn. All the while a sinister caped man is slinking around the mansion.
Downstairs Mason says he is suspicious of the woman’s motives. Mrs. Hart is also suspicious of the young woman. The shadowed figure too is suspicious. Everyone is spying on everyone else. The butler brings a night cap to Claymore and Mason. Claymore discovers that the wine is poisoned.
From then on there are dubious characters, hidden passages, surprise characters and everything else you need for an Old Dark House mystery.
“Midnight Faces” was released in 1926 and was directed by Bennett Cohen. It is a silent movie. It is also your basic “Old Dark House” mystery. It’s not the best Old Dark House Mystery. There were dozens done in the twenties and thirties. “The Bat” 1926 and “The Cat and the Canary” 1927 were better, but it was actually much more enjoyable than I expected.
The music is standard silent movie canned music. There are also some issues with the color saturation in spots. In addition, there were also some obvious repetitive scenes. Something I fault the director for. And let’s not forget the stereotypical black, scared servant, comic relief. Despite the flaws I found myself intrigued with the story and anxious to find out what was actually going on. It retained its mystery to the end. But I’m one who likes to let a movie unwind organically. I don’t try to solve the mystery myself. I let the writer do that for me.
It’s a short film, only about 53 minutes. That might be a good thing for the movie. You don’t waste time with character development and filler. Believe it or not, the black servant had more character than any of the other actors. The movie itself dives right in to the mystery and keeps adding layers even in the final reel.
Someone referred to the movie as good for historic purposes only. Someone else referred to the movie as forgettable, I hope not. For historic value as well as for pure entertainment it is worth preserving.