~The Donovan Affair~
1929
Directed by: Frank Capra

Written by:

Dorothy Howell (screenplay)
Howard J. Green (screenplay and titles)


Based on
a play by Owen Davis.
~Cast~

Jack Holt ... Insp. Killian
Dorothy Revier ... Jean Rankin
William Collier Jr. ... Cornish
Agnes Ayres ... Lydia Rankin
John Roche ... Jack Donovan
Fred Kelsey ... Carney
Hank Mann ... Dr. Lindsey
Wheeler Oakman ... Porter
Virginia Brown Faire ... Mary Mills
Alphonse Ethier ... Capt. Peter Rankin
Edward Hearn ... Nelson
Ethel Wales ... Mrs. Lindsey
John Wallace ... Dobbs
Allan Cavan ... Gambler (uncredited)
Sherry Hall ... Gambler (uncredited)
~Remaining Credits~

Produced & Released by: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Produced by: Harry Cohn
Cinematography by: Ted Tetzlaff
Film Editing by: Arthur Roberts
Art Direction by: Harrison Wiley
Assistant Director: Tenny Wright

Length: 8 Reels
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Released: April 11, 1929
~Plot Synopsis~
Jack Donovan, a gambler and philanderer, is marked for death by his creditors when he fails to pay
off some debts. Donovan's wanton womanizing results in a tearful visit from Mary Mills, a maid at the
Rankin estate, who accuses him of jilting her for her mistress, Lydia Rankin. Donovan's activities
engender yet another enemy when Cornish, the suitor of Lydia's daughter Jean, spies Lydia, clad in
her daughter's cape, furtively meeting with Donovan, and mistakes Lydia for Jean. One evening, at a
dinner party at the Rankin estate, Donovan comes face to face with his antagonists. At dinner,
Donovan shows the guests a mysterious eye-shaped ring which is said to glow in the dark and hold
strange powers. Mesmerized by the ring, Dobbs, the Rankins' sinister peg-legged gardener, watches
from the window as Donovan orders the lights extinguished to demonstrate the power of the ring.
When the lights come back on, Donovan is dead, a carving knife plunged into his back. Inspector
Killian and his assistant Carney are summoned, and when Killian asks to see the ring, it is discovered
missing. A search recovers the ring and reveals that Porter, one of the invited guests as well as the
assassin appointed by Donovan's creditors, is carrying a gun. Killian accuses Porter a known criminal,
of the murder, but Porter denies the charge and offers to name his own list of suspects when Killian
decides to test the ring and orders the lights extinguished. Just as Porter is about to reach his
conclusion, he abruptly stops speaking, and the lights are turned back on to reveal Porter's dead
body with a carving knife piercing his back. The mystery deepens when a police officer delivers
fragments of a letter found in Donovan's apartment. Killian instructs Nelson, the Rankins' butler, to
paste the letter back together, but the butler secretly pockets several of the pieces. Because the letter
reveals a death threat written in a woman's hand, Killian orders handwriting samples from the
assembled women, and Nelson pockets Mary's sample, substituting his own for hers. When the
samples prove inconclusive, Killian becomes suspicious of Cornish and accuses him of the crimes.
Cornish denies the charge, but agrees to tell what he knows of the affair and asks that the crime be
reenacted. As the lights go off, a struggle is heard, and when the lights are turned back on, Killian is
restraining Nelson, a carving knife in his hand. Nelson then confesses that he committed the
murders, driven by his unrequited love for Mary.
~Jack Holt~