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The Drums of Jeopardy, a famed diamond necklace, has been stolen
from the Petroff family, a family of Russian aristocrats, and mad
scientist Boris Karlov (Warner Oland) finds the necklace with his daughter
Anya (Florence Lake), whose guilt commands her to commit suicide.
Karlov, his daughter was all he had to live for, so he wants to avenge her
death, and for him it's crystal clear that one of the Petroff family has
helped her steal the necklace (and he's right, too), so he hounds them all
through Europe after the Bolshevists have come to power in Russia and have
expelled the Petroffs. Eventually, the Petroffs decide to cross over to
the USA, aided by their secret service friend Martin Kent (Hale Hamilton),
to escape Karlov's grasp - but to no avail, Karlov is quick to catch up
with them, and he kills the Pettroffs' father Ivan (Ernest Hilliard),
before he can even set foot on the new continent.
(Lloyd Hughes) and Gregor Petroff (Wallace MacDonald) only manage to stay
out of Karlov's reach thanks to lovely Kitty (June Collyer) and her
resolute aunt Abby (Clara Blandick), who only get sucked into the
proceedings by accident but decide to fight it out to the finish.
the Petroffs, Martin Kent, Kitty and aunt Abby hide out in a country
estate but soon have to realize they are no more than sitting ducks - so
Kent deliberately walks into a trap set by Karlov, in hopes of putting the
whole thing to a quick ending ... he doesn't succeed.
Aunt Abby is the
next who walks into Karlov's trap, but mainly to give him a piece of her
mind. Then Gregor, who actually was Anya's accomplice in stealing the
necklace, decides to sell the others (including his brother) off to Karlov
in exchange for his freedom - but Karlov is able to look through his
treachery, and he poisons him before capturing Nicolai and Kitty, whom he
tries to drown in a flooded basement. But Kent still ahs an ace up his
sleeve, he has called reinforcements prior to his capture, and they soon
overrun Karlov's hideout, and in the end, he dies in the flooded basement
prepared for Nicolai and Kitty.
Very ok, fast-moving little
thriller, that might not exactly be the most original film, plotwise, and
does feature plotholes aplenty, but a constant change of scenery and a
nice villainous performance by Warner Oland make one forget narrative
That all said, the film still is plagued by a few
shortcomings common to early talkies from poverty row studios: The film is
very stagey in dialogue scenes, some performances are ridiculously hammy
(in a silent film sort-of-way), and not all of the action is as exciting
as it deserves (due to budgetary restraints) - but despite all this, Drums
of Jeopardy is still worth a watch at least.