The Eleventh Commandment


1h 6m 1933

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 15, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Allied Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the story "The Pillory" by Brandon Fleming (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Film Length
6,454 or 6,484ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

After reclusive Annie Bedell, thought to be New York's richest spinster, whose holdings are valued at fifty million dollars, dies, many claimants file objections to her will, which awards John Ross, her lifelong attorney, with her fortune, but all are rejected by the Surrogate Court. In Heidelberg, Max Stäger, a circus performer, reads about the will, and after his wife is killed, possibly accidentally, by a knife thrown by him in their act, Stäger travels to New York with proof that he married Annie in 1910. Meanwhile, Ross discovers that his junior partner, Wayne Winters, who loves Ross's beautiful daughter Corinne, had arranged with Annie to have the Bedell house made a gift to himself. Feeling double-crossed, Ross castigates Winters. In retaliation, Winters writes to two distant Bedell relatives, Tessie Florin, a kindly brothel keeper in New Orleans, and Peter Moore, to come and contest the will. Charles Moore, an Iowan cashier whose parents had adopted Peter, who died ten years earlier, gets Peter's letter and, because he has embezzled $10,000, goes with his wife Mabel and impersonates Peter. Corinne reads a letter from Annie, which her father has kept, that declares that Corinne's sister Nina, who has recently returned from a convent and who plans to marry Jerry Trent, scion of a socially prominent family, is really Annie and Stäger's daughter. Corinne then pleads with Winters, who now represents Tessie, the Moores and Stäger, to work with Ross to deny the other claims and to keep Nina's paternity secret, because she thinks that Jerry's father would not let him marry Nina if it became known that her father is an ignorant knife-thrower. Winters steals Stäger's documents and reconciles with Ross. They then decide to pay off Stäger and the other claimants, and see that Nina gets the inheritance as a gift. When Rose, one of Mabel's prostitutes, calls to say that her baby died and that she needs money for the burial, Mabel agrees to withdraw her claim for $300. At night, Winters sneaks into Stäger's room and steals his evidence to the claim. Also, that night, Moore is arrested by a detective for embezzlement. After finding his evidence stolen, Stäger arrives irate at a party for Nina and Jerry, and as he throws a knife at Winters, Winters shoots him. To protect Nina, Corinne claims to be Stäger's daughter, and to make sure that Nina gets the inheritance, she asserts that Annie was not her mother. Stäger's evidence is burned, and Corinne and Winters, who still owns the house, decide to marry.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 15, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Allied Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the story "The Pillory" by Brandon Fleming (publication undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Film Length
6,454 or 6,484ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film begins with the title "The Eleventh Commandment. Thou shalt not be caught." Reviews commented that the film was based on the recently publicized Ella Wendel inheritance dispute. According to modern sources, Ella Wendel, a recluse, died on March 13, 1931, leaving an estate worth $36 million, which consisted mostly of New York City real estate. She had no close relatives, and the subsequent publicity concerning her will provoked an avalanche of 2,303 claimants to her estate. An agreement was finally reached in June 1933 to distribute over a million dollars to some sixty claimants. Some of the details of this film were based on the real occurrences of the case.