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Outside the Law (1920)

Passed  -  Crime | Romance  -  6 January 1921 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 297 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

In this early collaboration with director Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks), Chaney delivers a dual performance of dramatic intensity, starring as Ah Wing, a kind-hearted student of Confucian ... See full summary »

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Title: Outside the Law (1920)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Molly Madden (Silky Moll)
Wheeler Oakman ...
Dapper Bill Ballard
...
Black Mike Sylva / Ah Wing
Ralph Lewis ...
Silent Madden
E. Alyn Warren ...
Chang Lo
Stanley Goethals ...
That Kid
Melbourne MacDowell ...
Morgan Spencer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wilton Taylor ...
Inspector
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Storyline

In this early collaboration with director Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks), Chaney delivers a dual performance of dramatic intensity, starring as Ah Wing, a kind-hearted student of Confucian philosophy, and Black Mike Sylva, a murderous rake of the San Francisco underworld. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Tricky eyes. Dangerous smile. Exquisitely gowned. Nimble fingers. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Romance

Certificate:

Passed
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 January 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fora da Lei  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was found in the estate of farmers wife Miss Bishman where a traveling man left the prints and never returned. See more »

Goofs

The name of San Francisco's Nob Hill is misspelled "Knob Hill" in a title. See more »

Quotes

Black Mike Sylva: I knew you'd fall for that cop stuff - you dirty rat!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of Browning's and Chaney's First Significant Collaborations!

Chinatown, San Francisco serves as the backdrop to this intriguing story of a couple of criminals, having stolen some jewels in a heist, holed up in an apartment building to stay low from the cops and another criminal they rooked named Black Mike. The woman, played with fiery intensity by a ravishing Priscilla Dean, and man, Dapper Bill played by Wheeler Oakman with some charisma, soon realize they want to go straight and make new lives for themselves. An older Oriental figure of some importance in the Chinatown community had been telling Molly, Dean's character, and her father that crime does not pay and lives can all be changed for the good. This influence and the kindness/understanding that goes with it, the love that develops between Molly and Bill, and a small child that wends his momentary ways into their hearts all help this transformation of character take place. Outside the Law is a really remarkable film for a number of reasons when you considered it was made in 1920! Director Tod Browning shows that he can direct. After all he learned under the master himself, D. W. Griffith. Browning paces the flow and action of the film very nicely and manages to create characters that are not just stereotypes but three-dimensional. The acting helps do this naturally as well as all of it is quite good, but make no mistake - acting honors go to the "Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney in an early screen role well before he and Browning were stars. Chaney is brilliant not only as the nefarious Black Mike - oozing oily charm, but also as Ah Wing, the Asian helper to the old Chinese friend of the Madden family. Chaney could have played both roles in a very stereotypical fashion and still be credible, but Chaney pours his heart into each and makes them truly believable. As Ah Wing he is also almost undetectable. As far as Chaney's very early features go, Outside the Law is currently my favorite.


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