Seven Footprints to Satan
|Seven Footprints to Satan|
|Directed by||Benjamin Christensen|
|Written by||Benjamin Christensen|
William V. Mong
|Release date(s)||January 27, 1929 (1929-01-27)|
Plot summaryJim and Eve, a young society couple, are kidnapped on the eve of Jim's departure for Africa and brought to a mansion that is home to a strange and glamorous Satanic cult.
ProductionSeven Footprints to Satan is the fifth of seven films made by Christensen during his tenure in Hollywood, and is one of only four that survive in a relatively complete state (Eagle's Nest and Haunted House are believed to be lost; House of Horror exists only in sound elements). Seven Footprints to Satan is also notable one of the first films of Loretta Young, who appears uncredited as an extra.
According to Internet reviews, only a silent version of the film, with Italian intertitles, is currently available for viewing.
* * *
Abraham Merritt's story features characters named "Eve" and "Satan" and may be seen as having some similarities to the Bible story, even though Merritt's Satan turns out to be an impostor in the end. The movie version would add to the imposture by having it that the whole adventure was a put-on, which might have been as much as anything to make the book's horriffic ending more suitable for the movies, which more ordinarily tended to have a happy ending.
The original story had it that Eve was a brunette,
SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN for years was unavailable for viewing, with only a few prints of the film known to exist. Even when it became available on home video, the copy that was circulated had Italian subtitles, making it difficult to follow for people who didn't speak that language. Later Peter Kavel had the subtitles translated into English, which helped a great deal.
SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN was like a different version of THE CAT AND THE CANARY and also similar to THE BAT, which was a Roland West movie. It can be seen as part of a late twenties horror cycle. SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN was also part of a triology of movies made by Benjamin Christensen at First National, preceded by THE HAUNTED HOUSE ( 1928 ) and followed by HOUSE OF HORROR ( 1929 ).
Creighton Hale, sometimes called "The poor man's Harold Lloyd", was the leading man in both THE CAT AND THE CANARY and in SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN. A star in the silent era, his career would suffer a decline in the sound era.
Sojin, who hailed from Japan, was a popular in the silent era, frequently typecast as a mysterious Oriental. One of his most famous roles was the Mongolian prince in the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks film THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. He played himself in SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN. In 1926 he had appeared in another horror comedy, Roland West's THE BAT.
The business of having the steps light up is something that had probably been done before and has also been done since in "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" sung by Georges Guetary in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
That song came from George White's Scandals of 1922.
It's likely that this effect had already been done onstage before author Abe Merrit put it in the story. He could even have been thinking of the song about the "Stairway to Paradise".
The little guy is Angelo Rositto. He went on to work with Bela Lugosi in several movies.
Thelma Todd and friends.
A publicity picture with Thelma Todd and Loretta Young taken around the time that SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN was made.