The Cat and the Canary

1927

Rich old Cyrus West's relatives are waiting for him to die so they can inherit. But he stipulates that his will be read 20 years after his 	death. On the appointed day his expectant heirs arrive at his brooding mansion. The will is read and it turns out that Annabelle West, the only heir with his name left, inherits, if she is deemed sane. If she isn't, the money and some diamonds go to someone else, whose name is in a sealed envelope. Before he can reveal the identity of her successor to Annabelle, Mr. Crosby, the lawyer, disappears. The first in a series of mysterious events, some of which point to Annabelle in fact being unstable.

Cast:
Laura La Plante .... Annabelle West
Creighton Hale .... Paul Jones
Forrest Stanley .... Charles 'Charlie' Wilder
Tully Marshall .... Roger Crosby
Gertrude Astor .... Cecily Young
Flora Finch .... Aunt Susan Sillsby
Arthur Edmund Carewe .... Harry Blythe
Martha Mattox .... Mammy Pleasant
George Siegmann .... The guard
Lucien Littlefield .... Dr. Ira Lazar

 

Laura La Plante

Laura La Plante was born on 1 November 1904 inSt. Louis, Missouri. She was the older sister of actress Violet La Plante (later known in life as Violet Benson). Laura was 15 years old when she entered films as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty. By 1921, she had a number of roles including a Tom Mix western called 'Big Town Round-up (1921)' for Fox and 'The Old Swimmin' Hole (1921)' for First National. Laura, now 17, next signed with Universal where she appeared in shorts, serials and many supporting roles. Over the next few years, Laura would become one of the leading stars at Universal. A WAMPAS Baby Star of 1923, she could act in drama's, mysteries and comedies. Some of her more important films were the adventure 'Crooked Alley (1923)', the comedy 'Sporting Youth (1924)', the drama 'Smouldering Fires (1925). The Cat and the Canary (1927) made by Universal Studios where Laura remained from 1924 - 1930, featured her as Annabelle West, the sole heir to the fortune of eccentric millionaire Cyrus West. The film is thankfully still in existence today for audiences to appreciate and is testament not only to Laura's ability, but also as an example of Paul Leni's creativity and visual flair. The film is now deservedly looked upon as the prototype of all old-dark-house thrillers. One of her successful comedies, 'Skinner's Dress Suit (1926)', was directed by her husband William A. Seiter. When sound came to Universal, she was one of the silent film stars who made the transition. She played a leading role in the sound film 'Show Boat (1929)' and made her first all talking picture with 'Hold Your Man (1929)'. By 1930, she decided that she had enough and left Universal, which terminated her contract. In 1932 she divorced her husband, director William Seiter who featured her in many of his films, and two years later married Irving Asher, production chief for Warner Bros'. First National films in Britain. Residing in England, Laura made five films, only three of them survive today: THE CHURCH MOUSE (1934), THE MAN OF THE MOMENT (1935) and WIDOWS MIGHT (1935). The Ashers returned to Beverly Hills in California during the mid-Forties where they lived in comfort and Laura took up the art of sculpting while only making a few appearances on television and the silver screen. Irving Asher passed away in 1985. Laura's final screen appearance was in 1957 with SPRING REUNION as the mother of Betty Hutton's character. In 1954, she appeared as a contestant on "You Bet Your Life" under the name Laura Asher. Groucho Marx was told he might recognize her, and he realized she was Laura La Plante within minutes of being introduced. In 1985, appeared on the television special Night of 100 Stars. 91 year old Laura La Plante passed away on 14 October 1996 inWoodland Hills, California, USA. (alzheimer's disease)

Gertrude Astor

The first actress to sign a contract with Universal in 1915, Astor began her career playing trombone on a riverboat. Towering over most of her leading men, she often played golddiggers, rich socialites or a leading lady's best friend. With the advent of sound, Astor's career continued, landing her in a number of two-reel comedies, mostly with the Hal Roach studio and occasionally with Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang and Charley Chase. "I've never been so embarrassed in all my life!" seemed to be one of her most used lines in films. Acting until the 1960s, Astor often relayed her film memories to friends, fans and historians. At one point in her career, she along with actress Lilyan Tashman, were known as the most elegant and best dressed women in Hollywood. Astor died following a stroke on her 90th birthday. Gertrude Astor was born on November 9, 1887, in Lakewood, Ohio, and died exactly 90 years later, November 9, 1977.

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