The House of Darkness (1913)

Biograph Company
Starring:
 Lionel Barrymore, Claire McDowell, Charles Hill Mailes
Directed by: D.W. Griffith

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: An unbalanced man (Charles Hill Mailes) escapes from a mental institution and happens upon the home of the asylum’s resident doctor (Lionel Barrymore) while the man’s wife (Claire McDowell) is at home.

Featured Feline: Early in this short the doctor marries his wife who is a nurse at the asylum.  When he takes her home he gives her a gift of a long-haired calico colored cat in a small container.

The House of Darkness - long-haired calico cat in carrier

The cat manages to exit the container at one point and the wife quickly scoops up the animal and holds her.  She then makes the cat wave goodbye to her husband as he leaves.

The House of Darkness - wife holds up long-haired calico cat

An unusual amount of time is spent watching the wife scritching the cat under the chin and opening and closing her cage door.  She also brings it a plate of food.

The House of Darkness - wife brings long-haired calico cat some food

Later when the patient escapes he happens upon the doctor’s house and sees the wife inside still playing with the cat in its carrier.  When the patient breaks into the house he motions to the cat several times but never interacts with her and the cat is not seen again outside the carrier.

The House of Darkness - wife holds long-haired calico cat's paw

Final Mewsings: The film promotes music therapy for the mentally ill.   Too bad they didn’t hit upon animal therapy then as well!


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