The plot revolves around a series of murders on a wealthy estate and the attempts of the cast to uncover the murderer’s identity. The success of both the Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood play The Bat (1920), as well as the 1922 stage play The Cat and the Canary, led Griffith to write and produce his own variation on the theme, which in turn led to the production of similar “murder mystery/old dark house” films such as The Ghost Breaker (1922), previously filmed by C. B. DeMille in 1914, The Bat (1926) based on the play, Midnight Faces (1926), The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Old Dark House (1932) and even the fabled London After Midnight (1927) with Lon Chaney.
Agnes Harrington’s uncle separates her from her family in Africa when her wealthy father passes away, so that he won’t have to share his brother’s fortune with the child. Years later on his deathbed, he sees to it that Agnes is restored to her rightful place in society, cutting his own son John Fairfax out of the chain of inheritance in the process. John, Agnes and a number of other people gather at a social event at the famous Fairfax Estate, unaware that it is being used by a gang of bootleggers, and that a hidden treasure is concealed somewhere on the grounds. To make matters worse, a creepy madman is stalking the grounds, and one by one people start turning up dead.
At the time of this film, Henry Hull was starring on Broadway in the stage version of John Willard’s The Cat and the Canary.
D.W. Griffith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons