Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


 Wilkie Collins' seminal mystery novel The Moonstone (1868) was done no great service with this Monogram Pictures adaptation.  There is a jewel theft and Inspector Cuff is on the case, but the B movie treatment by scripter Adele Buffington (the vast majority of her 102 credits on IMDb are forgettable westerns) and director Reginald Barker (The Bargain [1914], The Italian [1915], Civilization [1917])   have sucked the life out of the story.

David Manners starred as Franklin Blake.  Manners was born Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom in 1901.  The handsome actor co-starred and was featured with some of Hollywood's best known beauties, including Jameson Thomas,Loretta Young, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, Constance Bennett, Kay Francis, Katherine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, and Claudette Colbert, but is best remembered for his work in horror flicks Dracula, The Mummy, and The Black Cat.

British cabaret performer Phyllis Barry co-starred as Anne Verinder.  In 1930, she had caught the eye of Samuel Goldwyn, who cast her opposite Kay Francis in Cynara, a film with high hopes and disappointing returns.  She began a slow slide into lesser roles, sometimes acting as a comic foil for Buster Keaton, Wheeler & Woolsey, and The Three Stooges.  Her last four film roles were uncredited.   She quit acting in 1947 and became addicted to prescription drugs.  She died seven years later of an accidental overdose.  She was 45.

Also in the cast were Gustav van Seyffertitz, Jameson Thomas, Herbert Bunston, Elspeth Dudgeon, John Davidson, Claude King, and -- as Inspector Cuff -- Charles Irwin.

Supposedly the film was "highly acclaimed."  Give this curiosity a try.

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