The two-reel Crescent melodrama Under the Black Robe was a pulpish detective yarn in the tradition of Nick Carter. The villains are members of a secret "Black Hand" society, bent on fomenting a reign of terror in New York's tenement district. Hot on the trail of the bad guys, the detective hero is overpowered, tied up, and locked in a basement with several sputtering sticks of TNT. Managing to save himself through a stratagem that is at once dramatically fascinating and utterly impossible, the detective then captures ten conspirators single-handedly. "Wild" and "lurid" were the kindest words used by Variety to describe this ludicrous thriller.
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