The Devil's Claim (1920)
Dir.: Charles Swickard
Scr.: J. Grubb Alexander
Cast: Sessue Hayakawa, Rhea Mitchell, Colleen Moore, William Buckley
In The Devil's Claim, Sessue Hayakawa plays an Indian (!) novelist who uses his experiences with women as inspiration for his novels. Next, he encounters a young American woman (Rhea Mitchell) who tells him a story about Satan-worshipping societies and evil talismans. Her real motive, however, is to reunite the novelist with Indora (future 1920s superstar Colleen Moore), a young Persian girl whom he had abandoned.
Directed by Charles Swickard from a screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander, The Devil's Claim is an excellent drama – and so is Hayakawa's performance. Much of the plot is told in the "story within a story" mode, as the film brings to life the sensational chapters of the author's latest novel.
As a plus, The Devil's Claim was screened in a gorgeous 35mm print from the George Eastman House.
Reviewed at Cinesation 2009
© James Bazen