Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Devil's Bait (1917) Film Review - Cinecon 44 Screening

Plot Summary - Silent melodrama in which Satan himself produces gems which he loads up the earth with to bait humans into murder, thievery, treachery, and other sins. The meat of the story then begins where we see two men find a "great ruby", then fight over it until the one holding the gem is left hanging over the edge of a high cliff. The other guy makes a bargain with him - he'll save his life in exchange for the ruby. Done. Well, these two soon end up rivals for the same girl - guess which one she marries? Yeah, the one with the ruby, which he gives to her set in a ring. The married man is a doctor, and soon he has a daughter - unfortunately, his rival tempts away his wife, a sucker for things that gleam, by giving her a bunch of gem-studded jewelry. Years go by and the daughter, Doris (Ruth Roland), is now a twentyish beauty who has been kept isolated from temptation by dad, who never lets her see gems. But the bad guy who stole the wife makes yet another appearance as he shows up to blackmail the Doc, saying he will tell the daughter the "truth" about her mother. Meanwhile, in league with a vampish woman who takes cash in exchange for doing his dirty work, this same bad guy gets pretty Doris elected "Queen of the Carnival", some sort of upcoming flower event in their California town of Golden City. His reasons for doing this has escaped my memory, it's all part of his blackmail scheme though - - he shows Doris her first glimpse of gemstones, and soon she's draping jewelry all over herself.

Review - Okay, this is sort of an odd film, but it was kind of a hoot - I liked it. The image of Satan superimposed over that ruby ring several times during the film is interesting - it would have been neat to see tinted in red, as apparently it was in the original release of this. And how about that scene in Hell of mostly young, long-haired women dressed in, my memory anyway, sort of togas while writhing around in a pit. Okay, I always notice the clothing in films - I've got to say, this movie features some very attractive 1917 outfits on the women. In particular, Ruth Roland sports several really cute dresses and hats - including probably the cutest dress I've ever seen from that period: light colored fabric overlayed with a floral pattern, tiers of ruffles all the way down the skirt, and a lace-up front bodice with short little white puffed sleeves - this was just adorable (okay, so I like clothes - a lot!). I confess - I have a thing for vintage hats and can't stop looking at them in movies either. Rating - 7/10 stars

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