The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' (1914)


The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' (1914)

Thwarted by his despotic uncle from continuing his love affair, a young man turns to thoughts of murder. Experiencing a series of visions, he sees murder as a normal course of events in life and kills his uncle. Tortured by his conscience, his future sanity is uncertain as he is assailed by nightmarish visions of what he has done.
IMDb  6.5 /10
Release Date1914-08-24
Runtime1h 18mins
GenreCrime, Drama, Horror
Content RatingNot Rated (Not Rated)
CompanyMajestic Motion Picture Company
Anabel - The Nephew's Sweetheart
The Detective
The Grocery Boy
(as George A. Berranger)

The Avenging Conscience

The Avenging Conscience: or "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a 1914 silent horror film directed by D.W. Griffith. The film is based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the poem "Annabel Lee".


A young man (Henry B. Walthall) falls in love with a beautiful woman (Blanche Sweet), but is prevented by his uncle (Spottiswoode Aitken) from pursuing her. Tormented by visions of death and suffering and deciding that murder is the way of things, the young man kills his uncle and builds a wall to hide the body.

The young man's torment continues, this time caused by guilt over murdering his uncle, and he becomes sensitive to slight noises, like the tapping of a shoe or the crying of a bird. The ghost of his uncle begins appearing to him and, as he gradually loses his grip on reality, the police figure out what he has done and chase him down. In the ending sequence, we learn that the experience was all a dream and that his uncle is really alive.


  • Henry B. Walthall as the nephew
  • Blanche Sweet as his sweetheart
  • Spottiswoode Aitken as the uncle
  • George Siegmann as the Italian
  • Ralph Lewis as the detective
  • Mae Marsh as the maid
  • Robert Harron as the grocery boy
  • George Beranger
  • Wallace Reid - the doctor