Lon Chaney and Tod Browning made evil music together in ten films. This was the first. Chaney’s not the star but, unsurprisingly, he pretty much steals the show.Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Wicked Darling (1919)”
This movie is sick. I’m just getting that out of the way now. All the content warnings in the world. Lon Chaney stars, Tod Browning directs. Could it be anything but twisted? I also kind of love it.Continue reading “Fun Size Review: West of Zanzibar (1928)”
Lon Chaney plays a heartbroken anarchist in this incredibly curious tale of terrorism and unrequited love. The suits apparently wanted to have their cake and eat it to: a torn-from-the-headlines political story without any actual politics.Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Ace of Hearts (1921)”
Lon Chaney plays a ventriloquist-turned-criminal mastermind who robs from the rich with help from his sideshow pals. Just as bonkers and just as much fun as you might imagine.
Lon Chaney and Leatrice Joy are members of a secret society that likes to blow people to tiny little pieces. It’s all well and good until she gets married to another member and discovers that she’d rather give peace a chance. Yes, Lon’s heart gets broken. Yes, again.
Lon Chaney, Loretta Young and Nils Asther play three corners of a love triangle made pretty disturbing by the leading lady’s youth and the general squickiness of the plot.
Lon Chaney plays a two-thumbed criminal on the lam who poses as an armless knife-thrower to deflect suspicion. (As one does.) He’s in love with Joan Crawford, who is afraid of men’s arms encircling her. Lon knows a surgeon who can… Yes, the movie goes there.
Lon Chaney plays a ventriloquist-turned-criminal who joins forces with two other sideshow performers to open a pet shop and steal jewels. Just go with it. Chaney reunited with director Tod Browning for this strange crime drama.
Lon Chaney stars as Tito, a clown who finds an orphan girl and raises her as his daughter. He falls in love with her (ew!) but she falls for a debauched count, as one does. Everyone ends up in hysterics and it’s a race to see who can off themselves first. Not my favorite. Is it obvious?
Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from one of the most iconic performers of the silent era.
Lon Chaney plays a serial killer with two thumbs on one hand who hides out from the cops by posing as an armless knife-thrower in a traveling circus. He falls in love with Joan Crawford, who is afraid of men’s hands. After strangling her father, Chaney decides to cut off his own arms for real in order to win Crawford’s love, as one does. Chaos ensues. I did not make any of that up.
Continue reading “The Unknown (1927) A Silent Film Review”
An incompetent director feuding with the star, romantic leads who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag, a flurry of last-minute cuts, a print slashed apart in a bizarre attempt at sound conversion… and yet The Phantom of the Opera remains one of the iconic films of the silent era. Strong source material, set design and the hard work of Lon Chaney pay off in the end. This is an inconsistent film but also strangely charming. Not to be missed.
The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most beloved and iconic silent films but, let’s face it, the home media releases have been a mixed bag. For every quality release, there have been several duds with faded, scratchy prints and unsuitable music.
Lon Chaney may be the reason most people see this film but he isn’t the star. The hero is Johnny Arthur, a wannabe detective who took a correspondence course. Old dark house flick with mad scientists and general creepiness, it just misses being a classic in the genre. Not without its pleasures and better if you go in knowing what to expect.
Hello and welcome to a new series! As you may already know, a good number of silent films have been lost, some of them quite famous. However, many of these films were remade as talkies. Some of the remakes even used the original silent as reference material before it was lost. Missing the Silents is going to focus on these remakes and examine how they can help us imagine what the original might have been like.
Here’s a movie that no one really wanted to make. Its production was troubled from the very beginning. From professional spats to last-minute recuts and reshoots, it had disaster written across it. So how did this hellish production end up as one of the most iconic and memorable horror films of all time? Does it live up to its reputation? Is it worth seeing for the casual viewer? We are going to engage in a little silent movie archaeology in order to find out.
Lon Chaney! Famed the world over for his portrayal of monsters, psychopaths, men on the path to self-destruction and… lovey-dovey backwoods fur trappers? Yes, Mr. Chaney was tapped as the romantic lead in this hot mess and the result was not pretty. The miscast Chaney is further hampered by a very strange script, which features talking animals, an overstaffed RCMP and a villain named Bucky. For superfans only.
(You can read my full-length review here.)
[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Lon Chaney survives (!) and wins the heart and hand of his true love (!!!) Bucky burns to death in a forest fire.[/toggler]
If it were a dessert it would be:
S’mores Burger. Some things that are good on their own just do not belong together. Lon Chaney and lumberjack movies are two of these things.
Availability: Released on DVD by Image along with another Chaney film, The Shock. The Image release has a cheeky, fun score from Robert Israel, which adds considerably to its entertainment value. It has also been released as a budget disc by Alpha. I have not seen this version but the print is likely poor and the score is likely canned.
Mysterious events are afoot in the tiny town of Danburg. Unexplained accidents, missing persons, an abandoned sanitarium… Our nebbish hero is a would-be detective who is determined to get to the bottom of things. He gets more than he bargained for when he runs into Dr. Ziska, played by none other than Lon Chaney.
Continue reading “The Monster (1925) A Silent Film Review”
Lon Chaney as we know him really arrived with the release of this movie. It has everything we love about him: impressive makeup, criminal mischief, madness, murder and scenery chewed with rare abandon. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about a double amputee criminal mastermind who plans to take over San Francisco with a gang of anarchists wearing stylish straw hats?
Continue reading “The Penalty (1920) A Silent Film Review”
A real rarity for Chaney fans: Our beloved monster plays a straightforward leading man. Lon Chaney and Betty Blythe are a pair of Canadian lovebirds who must flee when he is framed for murder. Lewis Stone plays the Mountie charged with bringing Chaney to justice. And he won’t give up because as the Hollywood Mounties say: “We always get our man!”
Priscilla Dean stars as Mary, aka the Gutter Rose. Pickpocket, purse snatcher and general shady lady, Mary’s world changes when she encounters a real gentleman for the first time. This does not sit well with her partner in crime and would-be lover, Stoop (Lon Chaney). This film is the very first collaboration between Chaney and director Tod Browning.Continue reading “The Wicked Darling (1919) A Silent Film Review”
I have always felt that The Fugitive was a better movie than series. The 1993 version was a fun popcorn flick starring Harrison Ford. My idea for the silent version is a 1923 popcorn flick starring… Harrison Ford! I couldn’t resist. Can you blame me?
Lon Chaney at his most grotesque. A delightfully slimy jungle picture that involves Chaney’s quest for revenge against the man who stole his wife and crippled him. Mary Nolan and Lionel Barrymore support. Wonderful but not for all tastes. A slightly warped mind is recommended. Maybe even required.
Continue reading “West of Zanzibar (1928) A Silent Film Review”