The Hope Diamond Mystery: A Classic Cinema Cliffhanger

Hope Diamond Mystery BoxThe Serial Squadron’s Eric Stedman has just added to the company’s distinguished collection of Cinema Cliffhanger Archives a new restoration of the 1921 serial The Hope Diamond Mystery, and Mr. Stedman provides us the following:

The Hope Diamond Mystery, an unusual 15-chapter silent serial, is not only a dual-era story about the 16th century and the 1920s, but counts among its participants author Mary Yohé, who was actually Lady Francis Hope, widow of the last person bearing the Hope name to have possession of the famous jewel.

The story, partially based on true incidents, was written by  Yohé and tells about the famous diamond, which at one time was part of the Crown Jewels of France. Following the legendary coveted gem from its discovery in 16th-century India, it is learned how a curse has shadowed the diamond ever since, bringing heartbreak and tragedy to all who have (temporarily) possessed it. Throughout the serial, descendants–or, perhaps, reincarnations–of people from the past appear, continuing their quest to own it, curse or no curse.

Starring Harry Carter, Grace Darmond and George Chesebro, The Hope Diamond Mystery is also notable as Boris Karloff’s first major film role, made when he was 34 and a full decade away from performing his most famous screen achievement in Universal’s mega-money maker, Frankenstein.

This thrilling chapter-play has not been exhibited in over 90 years, since its original release, and is one of very few which still exists today in complete form, not missing any episodes or reels. Very costly to shoot, more than $100,000 was spent on sets alone, including an elaborate Indian temple apparently constructed specifically for this serial on the Universal Pictures lot.

Hope Diamond MysteryThe existing print is black and white; however, it has been noted that the original presentation was tinted and included special-effect tints on shots of the diamond itself, which has been authentically reproduced in this new edition.  The quality is excellent, in fact, amazing for a 93-year-old film. Source material for the DVD: 35mm original reels (3 episodes), and B/W 16mm printdown from the 35mm original.

The Serial Squadron, created in 1998 by Eric Stedman, is a place for fans of classic cliffhangers to read or share information about radio, TV and silent and sound movie serials. You’re invited to join in, participate, and contribute… and have some fun while you’re at it.