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13 Washington Square (1928)





Cast overview:
Jean Hersholt ... 'Deacon' Pyecroft
Alice Joyce ... Mrs. De Peyster
George J. Lewis ... Jack De Peyster (as George Lewis)
Zasu Pitts ... Mathilde
Helen Foster ... Mary Morgan
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Olivetta
Julia Swayne Gordon ... Mrs. Allistair
Jack McDonald Jack McDonald ... Mayfair
Jerry Gamble Jerry Gamble ... Sparks


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A Story About a Social Leader Who Delayed Her Journey to Europe to Prevent Her Son From Marrying an Undesirable Person. (Print Ad- Sunday Star, ((Washington DC)) 1 April 1928) See more »


Comedy | Crime | Romance







Release Date:

8 April 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thirteen Washington Square See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

The Novel is Better
22 October 2019 | by MaliejandraSee all my reviews

Old money Mrs. DePeyster (Alice Joyce) is dismayed when her son Jack (George J. Lewis) brings home a grocer's daughter and wants to marry her. In an attempt to thwart the relationship, she switches places with her cousin and hides out in a boarding house with her maid (Zasu Pitts), but accidentally gets entangled with a crook named Pyecroft (Jean Hersholt) who intends to rob her house. They converge on 13 Washington Square but have to continuously invent lies to cover their tracks.

Early in 1927, Universal purchased the rights for the stage play NO. 13 WASHINGTON SQUARE from Brandt & Brandt. It was a highly anticipated and well-known property. May Irwin played Mrs. DePeyster on Broadway in 1915. (Film enthusiasts know Irwin from her famous appearance in the 1896 Edison film dubbed "THE KISS" in which she is kissed by John C. Rice.) Leroy Scott wrote the novel in 1914 for Houghton-Mifflin and he advised the filmmakers on the adaptation to the screen. It is easy to see why there were so many renditions of the story. Its many deceptive characters and cases of mistaken identity are perfect for the stage and screen, and although the plot is old-fashioned, it goes down easy. Possibly to differentiate it from the novel, the film version of the story attempted to add a mystery element which does not come off as successfully as the comedy.

Upon completion of BUCK PRIVATES, also featuring Pitts, director Melville Brown took on this project. It was shot at Universal City in California.

Joyce enjoyed a long career in films beginning in 1910. She was noted for her reserved maturity which often put her in roles of women older than herself, including this one which she performed at age 38. When sound came to film, this became the rule and she found herself receiving less screen time in minor character parts.

This is the second of four films Hersholt and Lewis made together, and Lewis remembered him fondly. "Hersholt was a fine actor, and very easy to work with. I remember he was always very thoughtful of the other cast members." His participation in forming the Motion Picture Relief Fund inspired the Academy to create the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

"Harry Hoyt's adaptation was very adroitly done and a new twist was given the story by fooling the characters and not the audience... Zasu Pitts contributed a great deal to the picture with her superb comedy," wrote critic Donald Beaton for "The Film Spectator." She is probably the most well-known of the cast members today. "Photoplay"'s reviewer agreed, calling for honors for Pitts but regretting that "Jean Hersholt's part does not demand acting at all commensurate with his ability."

P.G. Vaughan of the Sun Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri said, the movie "starts strong and sort of fizzles out before the end." Indeed fans of the novel will be disappointed by how much the film strays from the source material.

Overall, reviewers seemed to agree that the film was enjoyable but mediocre, except J.S. Walker in Grand Prairie, Texas who said, "If anyone ever figures out the reason for making this, please write me."

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