The Unknown Purple

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The Unknown Purple
Newspaper ad for The Unknown Purple
Directed by Roland West[1]
Cinematography Oliver T. Marsh[1]
Edited by Alfred A. Cohn[2]
Carlos Productions[1]
Distributed by Truart Film Corporation[2]
Release date
  • October 1923 (1923-10)
Running time
92 minutes[2]

The Unknown Purple is a lost[3] 1923 American silent science fiction film, written and directed by Roland West.[4]


After his release from prison, an inventor develops an eerie purple light that renders him invisible, enabling him to seek revenge on his unfaithful wife and his crooked business partner.


Film historian Scott MacQueen cited "The Vanishing Men", a treatment West had targeted for film in 1921 as the inspiration for the film.[5] The film was adapted from a stage play which was written by Roland West and Carlyle Moore.[1] Comedian Johnny Arthur made his feature-length debut in The Unknown Purple.[6]




The Unknown Purple was released in October 1923.[2]


In a contemporary review, Variety described the film as an "exceptionally well-made picture - among the best of its type - a mystery."[1] The review praised the photography of Oliver Marsh and the acting by Henry Walthall and Alice Lake.[1]



  • Willis, Donald, ed. (1985). Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Garland Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-8240-6263-9. 
  • Soister, John T. (2004). Up from the Vault: Rare Thrillers of the 1920s and 1930s. McFarland. ISBN 0786417455. 

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