Annabelle West can only inherit her Uncle Cyrus's fortune if she is proved to be of sound mind. When she spends the night in her relative's old mansion overlooking the Hudson River, she begins to fear for her sanity. Is it because of the ghost of Cyrus West - or something else? Based on John Willard's popular 1922 Broadway play, the film stars Laura La Plante and was directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, who successfully blended horror with humor in what is considered the first successful "haunted house" film. This film is also the first of six adaptations of the play; the most notable being the 1939 film starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard.
Laura La Plante began her film career at age 15 in 1919, and by 1921 had played a number of roles. She was one of the leading stars at Universal who successfully made the transition from silent to sound, and played Magnolia in "Show Boat" in 1929. In 1930, she moved to England where she appeared in a few films, but when she returned to Hollywood in 1935, she retired from the movie industry. Paul Leni was born in 1885 in Stuttgart, Germany, and was a stage designer for Max Reinhart and Leopold Jessner before going into film, where he made his mark as a director for gothic tales.
Silent films were accompanied by an organ, piano, and sometimes a full orchestra: the beginnings of film scoring as we know it. From Charlie Chaplin, who scored his own films, to John Williams and Thomas Newman of today, the power of music accompanying a silent or a talking film cannot be undervalued. Experienced composers know that music enhances the action and emotion, but never overshadows it.
Providing the live musical accompaniment is Wayne Zimmerman, who has been playing for ELTC and The Cape May Film Society’s Silent Film Series since 2011. Wayne has played in a variety of venues from coast-to-coast and in Hawaii, regaling audiences with his silent-film accompaniment and concerts. At varying times he’s served as organist at the Lansdowne Theatre in Lansdowne, PA, the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, PA, the Brookline Theatre in Havertown, PA, and the Merlin Theatre in suburban Philadelphia. Recently, he served as president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, and currently serves on the board. Past classics for ELTC include Wings, The Mark of Zorro, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Phantom of the Opera.