A Touch of Hitchcock

Crossed Wires (A Telephone Tragedy)
R: Frederick R. Sullivan. B: Philip Lonergan. D: Inda Palmer, Morris Foster, Florence LaBadie, Boyd Marshall, Ina Hammer. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1915
Print: British Film Institute / National Film and Television Archive

“In the spirit of the enormously popular mystery and crime pulps of the day, Crossed Wires is a suspense picture with a flair for good storytelling and stylistic innovation, strikingly similar to the later filmmaking style of Hitchcock. An innocent man is accused and convicted of murder, and when the facts finally surface, the innocent man’s sister sets about trapping the guilty party. The courtroom scene, though not unusual, includes a dramatic pan between two close-ups for purely psychological effect. Other advances in cinematography are a close-up reaction shot and two insert shots of objects. The surprise psychological climax is also novel. Stylistically, lighting effects for the dark house scenes are very effective, and in one scene a flashlight, the only illumination on the set, is actually shined into the camera. This treatment is decades ahead of its time.”

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