Scen.: Maurice Tourneur. M.: Clarence L. Brown. Int.: House Peters (Frank Sargeant), Barbara Tennant (Julia Annersley), Lionel Adams (dottor Hugh Annersley), Leslie Stowe (dottor Appledan), George Cowl (Griswold). Prod.: Maurice Tourneur per Paragon Films. 35mm. L.: 211 m. D.: 10’ a 18 f/s. Bn.
Such was the prestige of Maurice Tourneur in 1916 that British star House Peters decided to leave the West Coast to sign a contract with the newly formed Paragon Films in Fort Lee just to be able to work under his direction. The Closed Road is the second of the four films they made together and certainly the most successful. The suspenseful plot offered enough thrills to satisfy the most difficult customer. After having built a case against himself to take a murderer’s place on the electric chair, Peters has to disprove the case in time to escape death, a storyline that predates Fritz Lang’s Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by 40 years. The only reel that survives offers a glimpse of Tourneur’s skills as a storyteller and his use of real locations. As for House Peters, his understated performance makes the loss of the rest of the film all the more regrettable. This reel was found underneath a skating rink in Dawson City, Yukon together with other silent treasures preserved by the permafrost. However for this story you can refer to the moving found footage film by Bill Morrison, programmed at the year’s festival.