The Thirteenth Chair (1929) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Thirteenth Chair (1929)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this mystery, the second film version of a popular Broadway play, an amiable but phony medium takes a runaway under her wing. The poor lad is being charged with murder, but he is innocent. To prove it, the psychic stages a seance. She succeeds and happiness ensues.


Conrad Nagel
as Richard Crosby
Leila Hyams
as Helen 'Nellie' O'Neill
Margaret Wycherly
as Madame Rosalie La Grange
Bela Lugosi
as Inspector Delzante
Helene Millard
as Mary Eastwood
Holmes Herbert
as Sir Roscoe Crosby
Mary Forbes
as Lady Crosby
John Davidson
as Edward Wales
Charles Quartermaine
as Dr. Philip Mason
Moon Carroll
as Helen Trent
Cyril Chadwick
as Brandon Trent
Bertram Johns
as Howard Standish
Gretchen Holland
as Grace Standish
Frank Leigh
as Prof. Feringeea
Clarence Geldert
as Commissioner Grimshaw
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Critic Reviews for The Thirteenth Chair

All Critics (1)

A chatty theater piece more than an action movie.

April 28, 2003 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Thirteenth Chair

Quite surprisingly, an awful film. I've liked a lot of director Tod Browning's films, both before and after this effort (He Who Gets Slapped (1924), The Unknown (1927), Where East is East (1929), Freaks (1932), and The Devil-Doll (1936)), but this one is uncharacteristically dry as toast. One common factor from another film of his that I didn't care for as much as others (Dracula (1931)) is Bela Lugosi, who I find wooden and awkward, but he doesn't account for all of the film's problems. Everyone is wooden and awkward. It's is a shame, because also in the cast is Margaret Wycherly, who was so great in White Heat twenty years later, and Leila Hyams, a lesser-known actor who I've liked seeing in supporting roles in other films from this era. The sins of the film are many. The direction and editing is so poor it's hard to fathom from Browning, though I read later that some of his issues stemmed not only from sound being a new and limiting technology, but that sound director Douglas Shearer (brother of Norma) was part of the problem. I'm not sure if that's true or false, but regardless, the end product is awful, visually and sound-wise. It doesn't help that the quality of the surviving print has degraded, often making it hard to understand the dialogue. I can't recall a single scene or moment that I thought was truly good; almost all of the action takes place in a single room, and it's worse than stagey. There is never a 'wow' or macabre moment, or even an interesting turn of the plot. What could have been an interesting story along the line of an Agatha Christie mystery, with all of the potential culprits in the room with the detective sifting through the facts, becomes an exercise in tedium, moving at a snail's pace. I advise avoiding this one like the plague.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

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