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The Firebird

(1934 b 74')

En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on a play by Lajos Zilahy, a womanizing actor is murdered, and the wife of an aristocrat is suspected.

In Vienna ex-wife Jolan (Dorothy Tree) calls on Herman Brandt (Ricardo Cortez) for her alimony. Carola Pointer (Verree Teasdale) and John Pointer (Lionel Atwill) celebrate the 18th birthday of their daughter Mariette (Anita Louise), but John orders Tolstoy's novel Resurrection burned. Actor Brandt walks his dog in order to talk with Carola, says he adores her, and invites her to visit him at night. Mariette asks Brandt for his autograph. Carola tells manager Halasz (Robert Barrat) that Brandt must leave the building or they will. Carola tells Mariette not to listen to "The Firebird." Brandt rehearses Hamlet. Jolan demands alimony, and he threatens to kill her. Brandt plays "The Firebird." Carola hears it but learns Mariette is not playing it. Brandt does not show up for the play, and he is found shot dead. Halasz faints. The police inspector (C. Aubrey Smith) arrives and investigates. Brandt's valet Emile (Hobart Cavanaugh) suspects ex-wife Jolan, and they stop her from taking a train.

Emile says he heard a woman, but Max (Spencer Charters) says no one entered the building. The inspector questions Carola and John. While the press interviews the prominent John, Carola tells the inspector she visited Brandt and begs him not to tell anyone. Max tells John that a woman from his apartment went to Brandt. John tells Carola and asks the governess (Helen Trenholme), but she proves she was not there that day. John finds Carola's diary and realizes it must have been her. She says she went to a doctor but then admits it. When John is summoned, Carola tells the inspector that she shot Brandt, who was blackmailing her with scandal. The inspector has Carola re-create what happened but says Brandt was shot in the bedroom. The inspector says Carola is protecting someone, and he questions Mariette. She admits she visited Brandt but says she came to loathe him. Mariette says he threatened scandal or to kill himself if she did not marry him. Brandt was killed in a struggle for the gun. The inspector says Mariette must be arrested for a trial. Mariette learns from her governess that her mother said she did it and runs to her. Carola forgives Mariette, and John asks why it happened. The inspector blames it on the moral chaos of the time.

Fear of scandal threatens an honorable family to such an extent that they are susceptible to blackmail by an unscrupulous actor.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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