The Ace of Hearts

"Excellent"

The Ace of Hearts Review


Lon Chaney's The Ace of Hearts is, as far as I can recall, the darkest silent film I've ever seen. For a movie made in 1921, an era best known for Charlie Chaplin slapstick, this is some heavy stuff.

To wit: A secret society holds a meeting to determine whether some local fatcat is too big for his britches. They agree: He is. So they draw cards to determine who will be in charge of his murder. Whoever gets the ace of hearts is the trigger man. (We get the feeling this is a regular deal for these guys.)

Co-star John Bowers ends up drawing the card, and the night before he's supposed to blow up the restaurant where the man eats, he finally convinces his fellow conspirator and infatuation Leatrice Joy to become his gal. They spend an enchanted night together, but the next day things don't go according to plan. Cue bittersweet ending.

In this 73-minute film, we explore not only a deeply philosophical debate over whether it is moral or not to take the life of "the evil," we also get a look at how people fall in love. That's enough for two movies, in my book. The Ace of Hearts is at its best when its on the revenge kick and exploring the workings of the questionable secret society, but the love story (which brings in a rival (Chaney) competing for Joy's affection) is strong as well. Chaney is exceptional as the man with torn loyalties, and Bowers does good work, too.

Unfortunately for those seeing this on DVD, TCM hasn't even paid lip service to restoration of the film, leaving us with a DVD minted from one of the scratchiest, poppiest prints ever. It borders on unwatchable and does a real disservice to the new audio composition and engaging storyline.

Available as part of The Lon Chaney Collection with Laugh, Clown, Laugh, The Unknown and several other Chaney featurettes.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 75 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th April 1924

Production compaines: Goldwyn Pictures Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Mr. Farallone, as Lilith, as Mr. Forrest, as Mr. Morgridge, the Society Leader, Raymond Hatton as The Menace, Edwin Wallock as Chemist (as Edwin N. Wallock), Roy Laidlaw as Doorkeeper

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