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The Scarab Ring (1921)

The Scarab Ring (1921) Vitagraph Co. of America. Director: Edward Jose. Scenario: C. Graham Baker. Camera: Joe Shelderfer. Cast: Alice Joyce, Maude Malcolm, Joe King, Edward Phillips, Fuller Mellish, Claude King, Joseph Smiley, Jack Hopkins, Amand Cortez. 6 reels This film appears to be LOST

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, July 22, 1921

Constance Randall Alice Joyce
Muriel Randall Maude Malcolm
Ward Locke Joe King
John Randall Fuller Mellish
Hugh Martin Claude King
James Locke Joseph Smiley
Kennedy Armand Cortez

A well wrought, suspensive melodrama with a surprise denouncement is "The Scarab Ring," scenario by Helen Gaylord, directed by Edward Jose, starring Alice Joyce--a Vitagraph production. But clever as it is, all connected with it overlooked a vital defect that, when brought to one's attention, makes one smile indulgently.

It opens with a respected banker on his death bed, asking his elder daughter's forgiveness for having been a blackguard and a thief and asking her to swear she would not reveal his secret to the younger daughter. She swears.

The younger girl, Muriel, is loved by a youth of her own years and the elder, Constance, by a young lawyer whose father is a great criminal attorney. Hugh Martin, a former business associate of the father, holds papers proving the double life the banker led and threatens Constance that unless she persuades Muriel to marry him he will give the story to the newspapers.

Martin is found murdered in his apartment one night and a scarab ring is found on the floor by the police. Constance is arrested charged with the murder, being unable to prove where she was that evening. Her lawyer-lover gets her acquitted at the trial by producing a duplicate scarab which even the Oriental from whom it was originally purchased is unable to distinguish from the genuine.

On Constance's refusal to marry her lover his father questions her and she tells (flashback) that she was in Martin's apartment and did kill him, but it is shown it was in self-defense and when the father puts it up to his son to decide if he will marry Constance whether she be guilty or not the noble hero says he doesn't care what she did--he has faith in her integrity, and all ends happily. In the flashback is shown Constance telephoning Martin for an appointment the fatal night. The first thing the police would have done--one of the first things at any rate--would be to examine the phone records for just such a call.

Miss Joyce sustains the role with a dignity and womanliness that commands admiration for her art. She never once overacts, avoids all "oh my Gawds" etc., and conducts herself throughout like a human being--a well bred lady. The supporting cast is fully competent and the direction, intelligent throughout--with the one faux pas, the phone call. However could they let that pass?

An excellent program feature.


Review from Moving Picture World, June 21, 1921

"The Scarab Ring"
Alice Joyce Does Much with Leading Role of Vitagraph Mystery Drama
Reviewed by Fritz Tidden.

Edward Jose, the director, and C. Graham Baker, the scenarist, have handled the plot of "The Scarab Ring" in such a way that the suspense and the mystery it already contained have been heightened considerably. They have taken some time to get under way, however, but when they hit their stride the progress of the story is arranged so as to get the most value out of it. Several twists in the plot toward the end greatly increase the mystery of who committed the crime and the motive therefore. There are times during the progress of the action, when there seem to be entirely too many lengthy titles, giving the appearance of the story being told in printing.

Alice Joyce is a member of that group of players who can extract the greatest possible value out of any part given her. The public knows this well, and it also knows it will see a woman who will lend charm and attractiveness to any film. The parts of "The Scarab Ring" that progress slowly are greatly relieved by this beauty and talent of the star. Maude Malcolm has the most important role next to that of Miss Joyce; she handles it extremely well. The story of the picture has been adapted from a novel by Harriet Gaylord, called "The Desperate Heritage," which would have been a better title for the film than the one the producers selected.

The Cast.
Constance Randall Alice Joyce
Muriel Randall Maude Malcolm
Ward Locke Joe King
John Randall Fuller Mellish
Hugh Martin Claude King
James Locke Joseph Smiley
Kennedy Armand Cortez

Story adapted from "The Desperate Heritage" by Harriet Gaylord.
Directed by Edward Jose.
Length, 6 reels.

The Story.
Constance, the older of two sisters in the Randall family, promises her father on his death bed that she will keep his secret from her sister even at the expense of her life. The father, who was a bank president, made one false step, and in order to cover his crime paid a cashier to assume the guilt. He payments were maintained by the daughter after his death. Everything moved smoothly until Hugh Martin, a professional blackmailer, obtained possession of the letters written by Randall and his daughter to the cashier. Then Martin decided to marry the younger sister, a girl many years his junior. Constance objected, and Martin threatened to give the letters to the newspaper.

The day the correspondence was to be made public it is learned that Martin had been murdered. Constance is accused, as a scarab out of her ring is found beside the body. She is arrested and brought to trial. From that time on a succession of surprise twists to the plot hold the interest until the climax. Constance plights her troth with the man who has always been in love with her and who was the cause of upsetting the testimony that would have convicted her of the murder

Program and Exploitation Catchlines: No One Could Save Constance Unless the Inscription on the Scarab Lied. Great Is the Surprise When the Truth Is Revealed.
How a Scarab Saved the Life of a Girl Who Fell Under Its Spell Is Graphically Told in "The Scarab Ring.".

Exploitation Angles: Tell them that it is Alice Joyce in a well-told mystery story, than make a separate drive on those who like mystery melodrama. Don't expose the plot, but tell the story in a general way and sell mostly the mystery.

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Last revised August 27, 2005