The Law of Contact

The Phantom in the House (October 20, 1929)

Henry B. Walthall, Grace Valentine
 

Released on October 20, 1929: (running time 58 minutes) A man confesses to a murder committed by his wife and spends fifteen years in prison, only to be faced with confessing to another murder he did not commit.

Produced by Trem Carr

Directed by Phil Rosen

The Actors: Ricardo Cortez (Paul Wallis), Nancy Welford (Dorothy Bainbridge, aka Dorothy Milburn), Henry B. Walthall (Boyd Milburn), Grace Valentine (Peggy Milburn), Jack Curtis ('Biffer' Bill, convict in adjacent prison cell), Thomas A. Curran (Judge Thompson), John Beck (Biffer's henchman), John Elliott (Police Captain), Larry Steers (Defense lawyer for Paul Wallis), Henry Roquemore (Bainbridge butler), Paul McVey (piano player at Regan's), Rolfe Sedan (The Marquis, Dorothy's suitor)

 

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Marrying into the Family of a Murderer, For Better or Worse

This is one of the first talking motion pictures ever produced. In places the sound isn’t perfectly synced with the lips, but it still amazed movie audiences when they saw it. The speech is very perfectly and slowly enunciated, like stage actors would do to make sure that people in the balconies could understand the words.

It was also produced before the Hays Office began setting rules for motion picture stories. When the censoring board looked at a movie, it could never be a story where a murderer got away with murder. During the Hays years, the killer must always be caught and punished. In this adventure, there is a murder in the first scene, and the killer will never be caught or punished.

Dorothy and Boyd are a young married couple with a small daughter. Boyd is an inventor with tremendous ideas, but they are poor and unable to get anyone to pay him for his inventions. As our drama opens, Dorothy is talking with a wealthy businessman, offering herself to him if he will only finance her husband’s inventions. The businessman greedily accepts this bargain and immediately begins to make love to the young wife of the inventor.

She resists his sudden attempts and struggles against his advances. Outside the door, the young woman’s husband approaches, and hearing his wife’s screams, rushes inside. The wealthy businessman is dead on the floor, with his young wife staring down at the dead body in horror. Thinking quickly, the young husband pushes his wife out of the home and stays behind, confessing to a murder that his wife committed.

Boyd will be sent to prison for the rest of his life for that murder, and when he is released fifteen years later on parole, he discovers that his wife wants no part of him and refuses to tell his grown daughter that her father is still alive. Boyd accepts this and begins a new life without his wife and daughter, but another murder will once again put Boyd in the position of confessing to a murder he did not commit. Some guys have all the luck, . . . all the bad luck they can handle. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Nancy Welford points to the murderer
Nancy Welford points to the murderer
Grace Valentine
Grace Valentine
Grace Valentine, Henry B. Walthall
Grace Valentine, Henry B. Walthall
Grace Valentine, Henry B. Walthall
Grace Valentine, Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall, Grace Valentine
Henry B. Walthall, Grace Valentine
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry B. Walthall
Henry Roquemore
Henry Roquemore
Jack Curtis
Jack Curtis
Jack Curtis
Jack Curtis
John Beck
John Beck
John Beck, Jack Curtis
John Beck, Jack Curtis
John Elliott
John Elliott
Nancy Welford
Nancy Welford
Thomas A. Curran
Thomas A. Curran
Nancy Welford, Grace Valentine
Nancy Welford, Grace Valentine
Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortez, Nancy Welford
Ricardo Cortez, Nancy Welford
Ricardo Cortez, Thomas A. Curran
Ricardo Cortez, Thomas A. Curran
Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortez
Thomas A. Curran
Thomas A. Curran