The Unholy Night (1929)

92 mins | Mystery | 14 September 1929

Director:

Lionel Barrymore

Cinematographer:

Ira Morgan

Editor:

Grant Whytock

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a production directory in the 20 Apr 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World, the start date for The Green Ghost was 1 Mar 1929.
       A working titles of the film were The Regiment of Doom , which was the title of Ben Hecht's original story, and The Green Ghost . The following written preface appears on a title card immediately before the action: "The amazing revelations pictured here are compiled from one of the most sensational murder cases on police record. The rare psychosis of the crime and the method of its exposure are stranger than fiction.....because they are true!"
       According to news items, Rupert Julian was signed to direct The Unholty Night as his first 100% dialogue picture. According to a 16 Mar 1929 ^MPN article, Julian voluntarily withdrew from the production, stating that he was not yet comfortable with sound and wished to direct shorts to gain more experience. It has not been determined if any of Julian's work was retained in the released film. He completed only two sound films, Love Comes Again and The Cat Creeps (see entries), both released in 1930, before the end of his directing career.
       Lionel Barrymore, who was mentioned in early news items as acting in the film, took over as director. The Unholy Night marked his second sound film as a director. A pre-production news item named Aileen Pringle as Barrymore's costar, but she was not in the film. The Unholy Night also was produced in a French-language version entitled Le spectre vert . That film was directed by ...
More Less

According to a production directory in the 20 Apr 1929 Exhibitors Herald-World, the start date for The Green Ghost was 1 Mar 1929.
       A working titles of the film were The Regiment of Doom , which was the title of Ben Hecht's original story, and The Green Ghost . The following written preface appears on a title card immediately before the action: "The amazing revelations pictured here are compiled from one of the most sensational murder cases on police record. The rare psychosis of the crime and the method of its exposure are stranger than fiction.....because they are true!"
       According to news items, Rupert Julian was signed to direct The Unholty Night as his first 100% dialogue picture. According to a 16 Mar 1929 ^MPN article, Julian voluntarily withdrew from the production, stating that he was not yet comfortable with sound and wished to direct shorts to gain more experience. It has not been determined if any of Julian's work was retained in the released film. He completed only two sound films, Love Comes Again and The Cat Creeps (see entries), both released in 1930, before the end of his directing career.
       Lionel Barrymore, who was mentioned in early news items as acting in the film, took over as director. The Unholy Night marked his second sound film as a director. A pre-production news item named Aileen Pringle as Barrymore's costar, but she was not in the film. The Unholy Night also was produced in a French-language version entitled Le spectre vert . That film was directed by Jacques Feyder and starred André Luguet and Jetta Goudal (see above).
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Daily Review
26 Oct 1928
p. 2.
Exhibitors Herald-World
20 Apr 1929
p. 50.
Film Daily
31 Jul 1929
p. 9.
Film Daily
20 Oct 1929.
---
Motion Picture News
16 Mar 1929
p. 820.
Motion Picture News
24 Aug 1929
p. 734.
New York Times
12 Oct 1929
p. 11.
Variety
16 Oct 1929
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec eng
Rec eng
SOURCES
SONGS
"Auld Lang Syne," lyrics by Robert Burns, music Scottish traditional.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Regiment of Doom
The Green Ghost
Release Date:
14 September 1929
Production Date:
began 1 March 1929
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 September 1929
Copyright Number:
LP703
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in feet):
8,498
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

One night, in a dense London fog, Lord Montague barely survives being strangled by an unknown assailant. At Scotland Yard, the shaken Montague says he remembers little of the attack. When Detective Sir James Rumsey shows him the names of five recent murder victims, Montague breaks down, as the five men were friends of his, all members of his World War I regiment. Now perceiving a pattern in the murder, Sir James asks Montague to invite the surviving members of the regiment to his home in the hope of solving the crimes. While they are assembled at his mansion, which Montague explains has occasionally been the dwelling of a mysterious green ghost, the apparently lifeless body of Major Mallory, who was badly scarred by shrapnel during the war,is discovered. Dr. Ballou, the suitor of Mallory's sister, Lady Vi, confirms that the man is dead. Later that evening, Lady Efra, the daughter of the late Marquis of Cavendar, who was thrown out of the regiment for misconduct, arrives with her father's will, which divided his vast fortune equally between Efra and the members of the regiment. During the night, all of the members of the regiment except Montague are found dead in their rooms, while Mallory's body has suddenly disappeared. In order to solve the crime, a séance is staged to invoke the dead members of the regiment. During the séance, they hear the men singing "Auld Land Syne" and Efra screams that she can see all of the officers. In her hysteria, she admits that she used Mallory to kill them all. At that moment, Mallory breaks into the room and stabs Efra to death, ... +


One night, in a dense London fog, Lord Montague barely survives being strangled by an unknown assailant. At Scotland Yard, the shaken Montague says he remembers little of the attack. When Detective Sir James Rumsey shows him the names of five recent murder victims, Montague breaks down, as the five men were friends of his, all members of his World War I regiment. Now perceiving a pattern in the murder, Sir James asks Montague to invite the surviving members of the regiment to his home in the hope of solving the crimes. While they are assembled at his mansion, which Montague explains has occasionally been the dwelling of a mysterious green ghost, the apparently lifeless body of Major Mallory, who was badly scarred by shrapnel during the war,is discovered. Dr. Ballou, the suitor of Mallory's sister, Lady Vi, confirms that the man is dead. Later that evening, Lady Efra, the daughter of the late Marquis of Cavendar, who was thrown out of the regiment for misconduct, arrives with her father's will, which divided his vast fortune equally between Efra and the members of the regiment. During the night, all of the members of the regiment except Montague are found dead in their rooms, while Mallory's body has suddenly disappeared. In order to solve the crime, a séance is staged to invoke the dead members of the regiment. During the séance, they hear the men singing "Auld Land Syne" and Efra screams that she can see all of the officers. In her hysteria, she admits that she used Mallory to kill them all. At that moment, Mallory breaks into the room and stabs Efra to death, then kills himself. Sir James and Ballou then explai that they had been working together to unmask Efra as the killer after Ballou determined that Mallory was not dead but in a catatonic state. Abdoul, Efra's faithful guardian, then reveals what led to the murders: by leaving Efra only half of his money and giving the rest to the regiment and making them her guardians, Cavendar hoped to harvest his lifelong hatred by causing the regiment to fight over his money and his daughter. Efra, who had been taught to hate by her father, then becomes obsessed with killing them and gaining all of the money for herself. Because Mallory had once been her lover, she easily convinced him to do her bidding. Using mind control, she even forced Mallory to pen a confession to the murders that she herself had planned. The members of the regiment invited to Mallory's house now are revealed to be alive, having acted as accomplices in Sir James's scheme to unmask Efra. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.