Bells, The

964. THE BELLS (1926-USA). With LIONEL BARRYMORE, BORIS KARLOFF. Creed, murder, and the avenging conscience are the subjects of this elaborate production of a then-popular play. In a small Alsatian hamlet in the 1860Õs, an innkeeper and mill-owner named Mathias hopes to become Burgomaster, and he wins the townspeople’s favor by giving things away. However, this makes him poor, and he is about to lose his property to a greedy creditor, in desperaÂtion, the once-respectable Mathias hatchets to death a wealthy merchant and steals his gold. Although he attains all the power and influence he desired, he is haunted by visions of his victim, and by the sounds of the jingle bells on the murdered man’s sleigh. The appearance in town of a mysterious mesmerist, who claims to discern all secrets, heightens Mathias’ sense of guilt, and he is driven to delirium and madness. Expressionistic dream effects, dramatic lighting, and Lionel Barrymore’s brilliant performance as the tormented Burgomaster make this superior entertainment. But the real attraction is Boris Karloff as the diabolical mesmerist: sporting a hideous grin, resembling none other than Caligari of the classic German film, and turning the screen ice cold whenever he appears, he provides us with a fascinating preview of decades of horrific roles to come. Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 108 minutes. ÒSilentÓ Drama