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The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

Passed | | Drama, Mystery | 19 October 1929 (USA)
Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance ... See full summary »


Tod Browning


Bayard Veiller (from the play by), Elliott J. Clawson (dialogue continuity) (as Elliott Clawson)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Conrad Nagel ... Richard Crosby
Leila Hyams ... Helen O'Neill
Margaret Wycherly ... Madame Rosalie La Grange
Helene Millard ... Mary Eastwood
Holmes Herbert ... Sir Roscoe Crosby
Mary Forbes ... Lady Crosby
Bela Lugosi ... Inspector Delzante
John Davidson ... Edward Wales
Charles Quatermaine Charles Quatermaine ... Dr. Philip Mason (as Charles Quartermaine)
Moon Carroll Moon Carroll ... Helen Trent
Cyril Chadwick Cyril Chadwick ... Brandon Trent
Bertram Johns Bertram Johns ... Howard Standish
Gretchen Holland Gretchen Holland ... Grace Standish
Frank Leigh Frank Leigh ... Professor Feringeea
Clarence Geldart ... Commissioner Grimshaw (as Clarence Geldert)


Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder" Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Try and Guess It! The thrilling mystery play that baffled and gripped Broadway for a solid year is here as a Talking picture with every chill and gasp intact! See more »


Drama | Mystery


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 October 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 13th Chair See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Bela Lugosi is here seen already wearing the ring with an oval-shaped gemstone which he wore two years later in Dracula (1931). This would indicate that the ring always belonged to him, and was not a studio prop. Lugosi also wore it in many subsequent films. In a filmed interview, he mentioned losing it at some point. See more »


It's noted elsewhere as a "goof" that the actors seem to be caught waiting for their cues, but many of the earliest MGM talkies employed a technique of long lingering inactive moments at the beginning and ending of reels, which apparently are supposed to take the place of leader when they change over, perhaps accommodating the Vitaphone print versions. Years ago, when these titles appeared on TV, they didn't do that, so maybe Movietone versions were more succinctly edited. By WesternOne. See more »


Madame Rosalie La Grange: I've got no holes in my stockings!
See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM also released this movie in a silent version at 1628.55 m in length. See more »


Version of The Thirteenth Chair (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

Odd editing
9 April 2002 | by michael.e.barrettSee all my reviews

Recently saw this enjoyable little curio on TCM. Adding to the comments of others on the matter of style, I was surprised to notice several examples of short graceful tracking shots forward or back, just to break up the sense of staginess. (The mansion has very smooth floors!) So it's not that the camera is absolutely static. But Browning avoids close-ups for the most part. What was odd is the editing at certain times, which seems way off. There's one bizarre moment when the actors are clearly gathered in preparation for when the director calls "Action," and then after a few seconds, they abruptly begin speaking to each other in mid-sentence. (I'd like to see someone do a whole movie like that!) There's an equally strange edit when Margaret Wycherley walks out of the frame to confront Bela Lugosi (a few steps away), and then we cut to Lugosi sitting in his chair waiting an awfully long time beside dead space for her to walk into frame. I wonder what that was about?

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