The Fortieth Door (1924)

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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

Old reliables such as director George B. Seitz, writer Frank Leon Smith, and cameraman Vernon Walker made this Allene Ray serial a box-office winner for its producer, former cattle rancher C.W. Patton. Ray played Aimee, a young girl betrothed to a rascal, Hamid Bey (Frank Lackteen). An American archeologist, Jack Ryder (Bruce Gordon), arrives to help the girl escape ending up in Bey's harem, but it takes the boy ten episodes to finally succeed. The blond Ray became the Pathé organization's most popular star, not because of any acting prowess -- she possessed none -- but because of her athleticism and All-American girl demeanor. Besides villain Lackteen's usual wonderfully overblown performance as the villain, this serial is notable for wasting the talents of the great Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong, who once again is reduced to skulking about in the background acting inscrutable. The Fortieth Door had gone before the cameras back in 1921 starring Charles Hutchison under the direction of W.S. Van Dyke, but was shelved when the star was injured performing a stunt in the first chapter. Hutchison blamed Van Dyke for misjudging the danger and their collaboration came to an abrupt end.