SUSPENSE

Released 7/6/13 by Universal/Rex; Director: Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley; Screenplay: Lois Weber; 1 reel; Print Source: The National Film Archives (London)

CAST: Lois Weber (The Wife), Valentine Paul (The Husband), Douglas Gerrard (The Pursuer), Sam Kaufman (The Tramp), Lon Chaney (A Hobo; unbilled)

SYNOPSIS: A young wife is left alone with her baby in her secluded country home when the maid quits without warning and her husband has to work late. A tramp sees the woman alone in the house and tries to break in. The wife, hearing a noise, tries to call her husband, but the conversation is interrupted by the tramp cutting the phone lines. The husband rushes home and is forced to steal an automobile. The police catch him, but he makes an escape and dashes on. The tramp finds a key left under the door mat by the maid and enters the house. After stealing some food, he tries to break into the bedroom where the wife is barricaded, but as he enters, shots are heard and the tramp dashes from the house where he is grabbed by the police who have been pursuing the husband. The husband explains his wild chase to the police who then release him.

"...not unlike many other pictures in which burglars or tramps are breaking into a house or lonely station kept by a woman who has managed to let her friends know of her predicament. The intruder gets nearer and nearer, but the rescuer is hurrying too, and reaches the point of danger just in time. It is pretty well done and makes a fair offering." --Moving Picture World

NOTES: This is the earliest extant film in which Chaney appears. He is on screen only briefly, playing a tramp that the rescuers race by. This is also an excellent example of the outstanding work of pioneering woman director Lois Weber. In some scenes, the screen is split into three triangles, each showing the wife, husband, or attacker. Chaney would find himself in far less classy productions in his subsequent years at Universal.

Some Chaney fans have doubted that it is actually Chaney in the film, but close examination of a high quality 16mm print clearly showed that the Hobo is played by Chaney.


© 1996,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis


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