The Ace of Hearts (October 21, 1921)
Released on October 21, 1921: Lon Chaney is a member of a secret brotherhood that has decided to murder a man, and Lilith, the only female member of the group agrees to marry him and help him carry out the evil deed.
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Written by Ruth Wightman from a story by Gouverneur Morris.
The Actors: Lon Chaney (Mr. Farallone), Leatrice Joy (Lilith), John Bowers (Mr. Forrest), Hardee Kirkland (Mr. Morgridge, the leader of the brotherhood), Raymond Hatton (the Menace), Edwin Wallock (Edwin Wallock), Roy Laidlaw (the doorkeeper), Cullen Landis (young man in restaurant).
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This Lon Chaney silent classic will keep you on the edge of your seat, popcorn in hand, wondering what will happen next, right up to the final scene. Sam Goldwyn produced this early MGM thriller, and personally changed the ending to a much more thrilling conclusion than the one that was originally shot by the director. In the big city, there is a secret brotherhood of nine people - eight men and one woman, Lilith. Lon Chaney is the handsome but somehow menacing-looking Farallone, and John Bowers is the clean-cut leading man Forrest. Lilith, the woman that captures both their hearts and influences the plot, is played by Leatrice Joy.
On one stormy night, the secret brotherhood meets with all present except for Lilith. The purpose of the brotherhood is to rid the world of evil men by killing them. This night they vote on the fate of a certain man, and unanimously decide that he must die. They will meet at 10 o'clock to deal cards, and the person that is dealt the ace of hearts will be the killer. And if the chosen killer fails in his mission, the killer will lose his life at the hands of the brotherhood. Lilith must be informed and brought to the 10 o'clock meeting to participate, and both Farallone and Forrest go together to get her. They want to speak to Lilith alone, and flip a coin to see who goes first. Farralone wins, and goes up the steps to Lilith's room. When he returns, Forrest goes up to speak with Lillith, and he proposes to her, showing her a marriage license that he carries right over his heart at all times. Lillith turns him down, saying that she cannot think of love, because only the cause is important to her. They go downstairs and join Farallone and make their way to the meeting place to draw cards. Lilith deals the cards, and after two rounds, clean-cut Forrest draws the Ace of Hearts. He is excited, and Lilith is excited for him. She decides that since he is the chosen one to commit the murder, she can now marry him to give him strength to carry on.
Later that night, Farallone is waiting outside LIlith's apartment when Forrest and Lilith coem walking down the street, already married. As the newlyweds ascend the steps to Lilith's apartment, Farallone remains outside, with broken heart, watching her window. A mighty storm arises, and Farallone remains on the sidewalk outside, mourning the loss of Lilith to Forrest. In the morning, with Farallone still outside on the steps, Lilith and Forrest are full of love, and neither has the courage to go ahead with their murderous plans. But if they don't kill the intended victim, they will both die at the hands of the brotherhood. What will they do? Forrest goes off to work, not knowing whether he will be able to complete his mission or not, and Lilith goes off in search of Farallone, pleading for his help. Farallone, still in love with Lilith, makes a devious deal with Lilith. He offers to help save the couple from the wrath of the brotherhood if they fail in their mission, but, if Forrest dies at any time before, during or after the mission, Lilith must marry him.
Lilith agrees, and the stage is set for a wonderfully written conclusion. Don't even ask me to give you any more details, this wonderfully rich plot will make you a devotee of silent films, when plot and camera were more important than blowing up things and special effects. The thrill and the heart-stopping action of this historic silent motion picture will keep you glued to the screen till the final, earth-shattering moment.