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The Drums of Jeopardy

USA 1931
produced by
Phil Goldstone for Tiffany
directed by George B. Seitz
starring Warner Oland, June Collyer, Lloyd Hughes, Clara Blandick, Hale Hamilton, Wallace MacDonald, George Fawcett, Florence Lake, Mischa Auer, Ernest Hilliard
screenplay by Florence Ryerson, based on the novel by Harold McGrath

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

For 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.

Brothers Nicolai (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.

Eventually, 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 inconsistencies.

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.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD