The Witching Hour (1934)

63-64 mins | Drama | 27 April 1934

Full page view
HISTORY

MPH and NYT call Ferdinand Gottschalk's character "Dr. Meiklejohn," although he is called "Dr. von Strohn" in the film and in the film credits. The title card on the viewed print read "Augustus Thomas' The Witching Hour ." Thomas' play, which was one of ten picked by Broadway drama critic Burns Mantle as best of the decade, was the source for the 1916 Frohman Amusement Corp. film of the same title, directed by George Irving and starring C. Aubrey Smith and Marie Shotwell (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.5030) and the 1921 Famous Players-Lasky film of the same name, directed by William D. Taylor and starring Elliott Dexter and Winter Hall (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; ... More Less

MPH and NYT call Ferdinand Gottschalk's character "Dr. Meiklejohn," although he is called "Dr. von Strohn" in the film and in the film credits. The title card on the viewed print read "Augustus Thomas' The Witching Hour ." Thomas' play, which was one of ten picked by Broadway drama critic Burns Mantle as best of the decade, was the source for the 1916 Frohman Amusement Corp. film of the same title, directed by George Irving and starring C. Aubrey Smith and Marie Shotwell (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.5030) and the 1921 Famous Players-Lasky film of the same name, directed by William D. Taylor and starring Elliott Dexter and Winter Hall (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.6428). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Mar 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Apr 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Apr 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
12 Apr 34
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Apr 34
pp. 34-35.
New York Times
28 Apr 34
p. 11.
Variety
1 May 34
p. 15.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Augustus Thomas' The Witching Hour
Release Date:
27 April 1934
Production Date:
began 2 March 1934
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 May 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4659
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
63-64
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the 1890s, Clay, the son of Southerner Mrs. Helen Thorne, courts Nancy Brookfield, whose father Jack plays host to gamblers in his home in Philadelphia. The night Clay proposes to Nancy, the police plan to raid Jack's home, but Jack gets a sudden premonition and sends the gamblers home. Judge Martin Prentice, an old friend of Helen who once was in love with her mother, Margaret Price, visits Jack in order to buy a Corot painting from him, and they discuss the dangerous power of Jack's telepathic abilities. Jack's next visitor is Frank Hardmuth, a political grafter who wants control of Jack's gambling ring as well as his daughter. Jack threatens to kill Hardmuth and kicks him out. During the poker game, Jack acquired gambler Lew Ellinger's cat's eye ring, of which Clay is deathly afraid. When Jack inadvertently hypnotizes Clay in order to alleviate his fear of the ring, he transfers his murderous thought to Clay. The next morning when Clay stares into the ring, Jack's desire to see Hardmuth dead rises from Clay's subconscious and he kills him, then wakes out of the hypnotic trance to find himself accused of murder. When no reputable lawyer will take the case, Helen appeals to Martin, who is retired. Martin kindly declines until the ghost of Margaret Price appeals to him. In court, the jury laughs at Martin's claim that Clay committed murder via thought transference, until Jack convinces the foreman of the jury, through hypnosis, to shoot the prosecuting attorney with a gun filled with blanks. As the jury acquits Clay, Martin asks the ghost of Margaret if he might ... +


In the 1890s, Clay, the son of Southerner Mrs. Helen Thorne, courts Nancy Brookfield, whose father Jack plays host to gamblers in his home in Philadelphia. The night Clay proposes to Nancy, the police plan to raid Jack's home, but Jack gets a sudden premonition and sends the gamblers home. Judge Martin Prentice, an old friend of Helen who once was in love with her mother, Margaret Price, visits Jack in order to buy a Corot painting from him, and they discuss the dangerous power of Jack's telepathic abilities. Jack's next visitor is Frank Hardmuth, a political grafter who wants control of Jack's gambling ring as well as his daughter. Jack threatens to kill Hardmuth and kicks him out. During the poker game, Jack acquired gambler Lew Ellinger's cat's eye ring, of which Clay is deathly afraid. When Jack inadvertently hypnotizes Clay in order to alleviate his fear of the ring, he transfers his murderous thought to Clay. The next morning when Clay stares into the ring, Jack's desire to see Hardmuth dead rises from Clay's subconscious and he kills him, then wakes out of the hypnotic trance to find himself accused of murder. When no reputable lawyer will take the case, Helen appeals to Martin, who is retired. Martin kindly declines until the ghost of Margaret Price appeals to him. In court, the jury laughs at Martin's claim that Clay committed murder via thought transference, until Jack convinces the foreman of the jury, through hypnosis, to shoot the prosecuting attorney with a gun filled with blanks. As the jury acquits Clay, Martin asks the ghost of Margaret if he might return to his fireplace and slippers. +

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.