|Directed by||Maurice Elvey|
|Produced by||Gaumont British Picture Corporation|
|Written by||L'Estrange Fawcett|
|Based on||the play High Treason by Noel Pemberton Billing|
|Starring|| Jameson Thomas |
|Distributed by|| Gaumont British (UK)|
Tiffany Pictures (US)
|Language||Silent with English intertitles; also released in sound version.|
High Treason is a 1929 filmbased on a play by Noel Pemberton Billing. It was directed by Maurice Elvey, and stars James Carew, Humberstone Wright, Benita Hume, Henry Vibart, Hayford Hobbs, Irene Rooke, and Jameson Thomas. Raymond Massey makes his first screen appearance in a small role. The sound film was presented in a London trade show on 9 August 1929, then went into UK general release in silent and sound versions on 9 September 1929. The sound version was released in the US by Tiffany Productions in a heavily-cut version (running just over 60 minutes) on 13 March 1930. The silent version and a trailer for the sound version are preserved and held by the British Film Institute; the only known surviving original copy of the sound version is a lavender fine grain of the American release version held in the collection of Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association (AMIPA), which has been recently restored by the Library of Congress.
The film is a science fiction drama set in a futuristic 1940 (though this was changed to 1950 in later releases). The plot and aesthetics of the film are heavily influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis .
In 1940/50, world peace is threatened when the "United States of Europe" comes into conflict with the "Empire of the Atlantic States". The former comprises Europe, India, the Middle East, Canada, Africa, and Australasia. The latter is a combination of the United States and South America.
In the film the prohibition era in America extends to 1940 and the tension is initially caused by bootleggers crossing the borders between territories. One such incident leads to a shoot-out between border guards in which both sides suffer casualties. War looks likely, but the pacifist Peace League intervenes. Meanwhile, we learn that the tension is in fact carefully orchestrated by a sinister terrorist group financed by arms manufacturers. They blow up a rail tunnel under the English Channel. The President of Europe orders a mass enlistment and mobilisation, fearing that the Atlantic States are preparing a sneak attack.
Dr. Seymour, leader of the Peace League, desperately attempts to avert war. His daughter Evelyn seeks to convince her boyfriend Michael, commander of the European air force, not to fight, but he insists he must do his duty. Evelyn says she will leave him.
The European council are divided, but the president decides on war, saying that he will announce the outbreak of hostilities on television.
The terrorists try to kill Dr. Seymour by bombing the Peace League, but Seymour survives. He tells Evelyn to make another effort to stop Michael ordering the airforce to attack, while he appeals directly to the President. Pacifists led by Evelyn demonstrate en masse at the airfield. Michael is uncertain what to do, but Evelyn convinces him to delay the attack. Seymour confronts the President, but is forced, despite his pacifism, to shoot him to stop him making the broadcast.
The New York Times wrote, "this story is really such a farrago of nonsense that one is sorry Maurice Elvey could not find better material to his expert hand" ; and more recently, the Radio Times wrote, "there is a sticky-backed plastic feel to the world of 1940 created by director Maurice Elvey on Gaumont's Shepherd's Bush soundstage, while the plot demonstrates a singular ignorance of political reality" ; whereas Horrornews.net wrote, "High Treason is one of the best examples of early science fiction cinema."
In 1998, a new sound version was produced by the combined efforts of the French drum & bass DJ duo Les Electrons Libres and local film archive La Cinémathèque de Toulouse. That version was a live electronic music mix to a 71 minutes copy from the Cinémathèque vault. Les Electrons Libres version of High Treason was screened in various French cities from 1998 to 1999 (Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rennes) and in Barcelona, Spain for the 1999 Sonar Festival.
Raymond Hart Massey was a Canadian actor, known for his commanding, stage-trained voice. For his lead role in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), Massey was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also was well known for playing Dr. Gillespie in the NBC television series Dr. Kildare (1961–1966). Today, he is most often seen in the film Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), in his role as the malevolent Jonathan Brewster, who looks like Boris Karloff, and violently attacks anyone who mentions the resemblance.
The following is an overview of 1929 in film, including significant events, a list of films released and notable births and deaths.
Alma Lucy Reville, Lady Hitchcock, was an English screenwriter and film editor, and the wife of director Alfred Hitchcock. She collaborated on scripts for her husband's films, including Shadow of a Doubt, Suspicion and The Lady Vanishes, as well as scripts for other directors, including Henrik Galeen, Maurice Elvey, and Berthold Viertel.
The Champions is a British espionage thriller/science fiction/occult detective fiction adventure television series. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company, and consists of 30 episodes broadcast on the UK network ITV during 1968–1969. The series was broadcast in the US on NBC, starting in summer 1968.
Blackmail is a 1929 British thriller drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anny Ondra, John Longden, and Cyril Ritchard. Based on the 1928 play of the same name by Charles Bennett, the film is about a London woman who is blackmailed after killing a man who tries to rape her.
Kenneth Griffith was a Welsh actor and documentary filmmaker.
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1934 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, featuring Leslie Banks and Peter Lorre, and released by Gaumont British. It was one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of Hitchcock's British period.
Robert Hichens was an English journalist, novelist, music lyricist, short story writer, music critic and collaborated on successful plays. He is best remembered as a satirist of the "Naughty Nineties".
Barbara Bedford was an American actress who appeared in dozens of silent movies. Her career declined after the introduction of sound, but she continued to appear in small roles until 1945.
Hugo Riesenfeld was an Austrian-American composer. As a film director, he began to write his own orchestral compositions for silent films in 1917, and co-created modern production techniques where film scoring serves an integral part of the action. Riesenfeld composed about 100 film scores in his career.
Maurice Elvey was the most prolific film director in British history. He directed nearly 200 films between 1913 and 1957. During the silent film era he directed as many as twenty films per year. He also produced more than fifty films - his own as well as films directed by others.
Benita Hume was an English theatre and film actress. She appeared in 44 films between 1925 and 1955, from the silent film era to sound film.
Thorold Barron Dickinson was a British film director, screenwriter, film editor, film producer, and Britain's first university professor of film. In recent years Dickinson's work has received much praise, with fellow director Martin Scorsese describing him as "a uniquely intelligent, passionate artist... They're not in endless supply."
The Tunnel, also known as Transatlantic Tunnel in the United States, is a 1935 British science fiction film directed by Maurice Elvey and stars Richard Dix, Leslie Banks, Madge Evans, Helen Vinson, C. Aubrey Smith and Basil Sydney. It is based on the 1913 novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellermann, about the building of a transatlantic tunnel between New York and London. The script was written by Curt Siodmak, L. du Garde Peach and Clemence Dane. The film, produced at a time when the threat of war loomed in Europe, emphasized international cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom.
At the Villa Rose is a 1920 British silent detective film based on the 1910 novel At the Villa Rose by British politician and author A.E.W. Mason. The feature was directed by Maurice Elvey and stars Manora Thew and Langhorn Burton. A print of the film survives at the British Film Institute archives.
The Face at the Window is a 1939 British horror film directed by George King. It was the second sound film adaptation of the 1897 stage melodrama by F. Brooke Warren after the 1932 version.
Estelle Brody was an American actress who became one of the biggest female stars of British silent film in the latter half of the 1920s. Her career was then derailed by a series of ill-advised decisions and she disappeared from sight for many years before re-emerging between the late 1940s and the 1960s in smaller supporting film and television roles.
Henry Vibart was a Scottish stage and film actor, active from the 1880s until the early 1930s. He appeared in many theatrical roles in the UK and overseas, and featured in over 70 films of the silent era.
Verdun: Visions of History is a 1928 French docudrama film directed by Léon Poirier. It portrays the battle of Verdun, primarily by recreating the battle on its location, but also with the use of newsreel footage and dramatic scenes. Most of the people in the film are actual French and German World War I veterans, including Marshal Philippe Pétain who portrays himself. The film has a pacifist message.
The year 1929 was marked, in science fiction, by the following events.