Wits vs. Wits (1920)

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When her father is murdered by a gang of crooks, Helen Marsley (Marguerite Marsh, the sister of Mae Marsh) seeks revenge. She does this by going to work for the gang as a stenographer, and through the use of a dictaphone and hidden wire taps, she uncovers an upcoming bank scam. As soon as the crime is committed, and just before the gang is about to take off, Helen calls the police and has them all captured. But in the end, the whole film is revealed as a story written by the heroine who, it turns out, is a writer. The head crook, Frank Chevy, was played by Charles Middleton, a character actor famous for his portrayals of villains and heavies. He was Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials, and played the commandant in two Laurel and Hardy films about the Foreign Legion -- Beau Hunks and Flying Deuces. This picture came early in his screen career, however, and his performance got poor reviews.