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The Paliser Case (1920)

The Paliser Case (1920) Goldwyn Pictures Corp. Distributor: Goldwyn Distributing Corp. Director: William Parke. Scenario: Eifrid Bingham. Story: Edgar Saltus. Camera: Edward Gheller. Cast: Pauline Frederick, Albert Roscoe, James Neil, Hazel Brennan, Kate Lester, Carrie Lee Ward, Warburton Gamble, Alec Francis, Eddie Sutherland, Tom Ricketts, Virginia Foltz. 5 reels. This film appears to be LOST


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Film still from The Paliser Case Film still from The Paliser Case
Pauline Frederick steps off the set for a photo with someone. Anybody recognize him? A man seems to be making her an offer she'd rather refuse. Possibly Warburton Gamble?
Film still from The Paliser Case Film still from The Paliser Case
A confrontation with the ladies. Frederick with Kate Lester and possibly Hazel Brennon. It never pays to make Pauline Frederick angry.
Film still from The Paliser Case Film still from The Paliser Case
She sadly tells her heavily made-up father of her woes. Presumably this is James Neil. Frederick seems to be explaining something over dessert. I can't identify this man.
Film still from The Paliser Case Film still from The Paliser Case
Frederick looks suspicious in this murder mystery. This picture also appeared in the Moving Picture World review, see below and on the Lantern Slide advertising this film from the collection at the Cleveland Public Library This picture from the film is courtesy of Jane of the Historical Ziegfeld site

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World
Review from the New York Times

Review from Variety, February 20, 1920

The Paliser Case
Cassy Cara Pauline Frederick
Lennox Albert Roscoe
Cara (Cassy's Father) James Neil
Margaret Austen Hazel Brennan
Mrs. Austen (Her Mother) Kate Lester
Tambourina Carrie Lee Ward
Monty Paliser Warburton Gamble
Paliser, Sr. Alec Francis

In the lobby of the capitol this week a small table covered with 100 or more bound volumes of "The Paliser Case" are on sale. The feature picture produced by Goldwyn, with Pauline Frederick as the star is a filmization of "The Paliser Case." The cover design, heart-shaped, bears a statement from the author and reads: "This is not the great American novel. It is merely a drama of gold, of pain, of curious crime and the heart of a girl ... " It is all that. Once in a blue moon an author, Edgar Saltus, as in this case, has the courage to say his work is not THE great American novel. Seemingly then and realizing his limitations, the scenario editor of this work, Edfried Bingham, has given continuity to a plot that seems quite probable.

Its story briefly concerns Cassy Cara, the impoverished daughter of an impoverished musician, once great in his country and a descendent of the Portuguese nobility. Into her life comes two men, Lennox, whom she admires and is inadvertently instrumental in causing his engagement to be broken to a girl of the upper class. Monty Paliser, another of her admirers marries her after a sham ceremony. The trio, father, daughter, and Lennox, plot individually to kill Paliser. In a scene supposedly enacted in the Metropolitan Opera House, Paliser is stabbed by an unseen hand and an unseen dagger.

Lennox, who had been overheard in his club threatening to kill Paliser, is arrested after being accused by a fellow clubman in the adjoining box. A dagger is found on him. Outside the box Cassy Cara (Miss Frederick) is seen, although she slips away. In the district attorney's office Lennox faces a grilling, while to that same office comes Cassy with a confession of her guilt. Later on the action passes back to the Casey household, with the father making a confession to the detectives as having killed Paliser by the cane sword. His death exonerates the two.

It is not at all an unconvincing story, but a better director would have illustrated how the father had sufficient strength to do the deed. In the picture he is revealed as a man feeble and scarcely able to move without a supporting arm.

Miss Frederick's work is highly illustrative of mimicry in the quintessence of the word


Review from Moving Picture World

February 14, 1920

"The Paliser Case"
Pauline Frederick and an Excellent Supporting Cast Do Credit to Goldwyn Mystery Drama.
Reviewed by Mary Kelly.

For superb acting--acting which denotes on the part of every principal, a successful effort to express the highest degree of intelligence and emotion, "The Paliser Case" is a photodrama that could be hardly surpassed. Pauline Frederick, already listed among the most distinguished of screen artists, gives a performance remarkable in its reality and picturesqueness. Sensitive, magnetic, vital, this Goldwyn star fulfills very requirement of her role

The story has nothing new to offer. The plot, if handled less skillfully, might assume the outlines of cheap melodrama. Ambitious young singer, talented but penniless, subjected to a hasty union for convenience, disillusioned by discovery that the ceremony was fraudulent, retribution coming to her betrayer--these are the tried and true ingredients for an old-time thriller. But the production shows a logical arrangement of incidents, an admirable management of surprises, a profusion of invaluable details and evidences of skillful direction, and is elevated to the ranks of dignified drama, intense with emotional climaxes. Only in the murder scene does the element of cheapness appear and momentarily lend an off-color effect.

James Neil triumphs as the girl's father, Angelo Cara, of royal Portuguese descent, a character which he portrays in truly impressive style, never forgetting to evince the nobility and family pride indispensable to such a characterization. Albert Roscoe, Carrie Lee Ward, Warburton Gamble, and Alec Francis are prominent among the lesser luminaries of the cast. A high standard of photography and scenic background is maintained. The stars discrimination once more asserts itself in her selection of gowns, as in her acting.

Casey Cara Pauline Frederick
Lennox Albert Roscoe
Cara James Neil
Margaret Austen Hazel Brennan
Mrs. Austen Kate Lester
Tambourina Carrie Lee Ward
Monty Paliser Warburton Gamble
Paliser, Sr. Alec Francis
Jack Menzles Eddie Sutherland
Maj. Archie Phipps Tom Ricketts
Mrs. Colquhuon Virginia Foltz

Story by Edgar Saltus.
Scenario by Elfrid Bingham.
Directed by William Parke.
Length, Five Reels

The Story:
Casey Cara, heroine of "The Paliser Case," a singer and the daughter of a Portuguese violinist, is befriended by Keith Lennox, after she rescues her father from a gang of thugs. She falls in love with Keith, who is engaged to Margaret Austen. This engagement is broken quite undesignedly by Cassey, who is seen by Margaret in the act of emerging from Keith's apartment after a business conference.

Casey sings at a formal soiree, and is admired by Monty Paliser, possessed of more wealth than respectability. He takes a marked interest in her, and finally to relieve her fathers financial distress, Cassey consents to marry him. She is the victim of a mock ceremony and upon discovering too late Paliser's treachery, Cassy, blind with humiliation and rage, leaves him and tells her story to her father and Keith. She plans to kill Paliser that night while he is watching the opera. Unknown to her, Keith forms a similar plan and is overheard at the club when he announces that he will make Paliser pay.

Paliser is murdered, after which the arrest of Keith follows. Cassey rushes into court to defend him and announces that she is guilty. Keith denies her statement. Before either are prosecuted, a confession from the real murderer clears them both of the charge and leaves open the path for happiness.

Program and Exploitation Catchlines: Pauline Frederick Gives Her Admirers and Intensified Impression of Her Supreme Emotional Powers.
To Save Her from the Charge, He Confessed to Murder. To Save Him, She Took the Blame. Who Was Guilty? It Is Startlingly Revealed in "The Paliser Case.
Pauline Frederick, as Aspirant for Grand Opera Fame, Travels the Road of Poverty, Disillusionment and Sorrow, But Is Rewarded by Love.

Exploitation Angles: Lay due stress upon the interest value of the story as well as the attractiveness of the star. Advertise the feature as one that will command the most absorbed interest from start to finish. Mention that the supporting cast is one that is worthy of surrounding a star like Pauline Frederick

Film still from The Paliser Case Caption: Soaked in Secrecy, Pauline Frederick in a mysterious moment from her Goldwyn "The Paliser Case." [This is a scan of the still which was reproduced in this review]

Review from The New York Times, February 16, 1919

Pauline Frederick, Warburton Gamble, James Neil, Kate Lester, Alec B. Francis, Carrie Lee Ward and others humanize a familiar and conventional story presented at the Capitol this week under the title of "The Paliser case." It is the old tale, without noteworthy variations, of the poor and honest girl who marries a wealthy villain so her sick father may have the benefit of his money. Finally she is saved from the ugly consequences of her sacrifice and placed in the arms of the hero she truly loves. To play the part of the poor girl, Miss Frederick brings a human touch of resolution and courage, marked with something of cynicism and bitterness. It probably will be agreed that she seldom has given a better performance. Mr. Gamble is just about as good as a "society villain" as comes to the Broadway screen, and in "The Paliser Case" he is quite the real thing. The others in the cast also are adequate, except the "extras" who try to look like the socially select at a party.

"The Paliser Case " at its climax turns to a murder, with three would-be murderers to start with and then three confessions to the crime, if the killing of the villain may be called such. If it were not for the foregone conclusion that the hero and heroine must be kept impeccable, an interesting mystery might be developed. Anyhow, the murder is well staged, and there are a number of other good pictures in the photoplay, which was directed by William Parke. One of the crime, however, in which the heroine decides to marry the villain for her father's sake, could have been made more effective dramatically if it had reached the high point in pictures instead of in flat words on the screen, quoting the heroine as saying that she is "going to the telephone" to accept the villain's proposal.

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Last revised, March 15, 2009