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Outside the Law (1920)

Passed  -  Crime | Romance  -  6 January 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 291 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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Credited cast:
Priscilla Dean ...
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 ...


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




Crime | Romance






Release Date:

6 January 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Outside the Law  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The reference in the original ads to the film being a "Universal Jewel" didn't have anything to do with the content of the film. It was a designation Universal president Carl Laemmle put on certain films to signal that these were the most prestigious, highest-budgeted productions of his studio. See more »


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


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


Remade as Outside the Law (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

There will never be another Lon Chaney!!
3 November 2000 | by (Edmonton, Ab.) – See all my reviews

This is an awesome film, Lon Chaney is so creepy looking as the gangster 'Black Mike'. When Lon Chaney is on the screen you can't get your eyes off of him, his facial expressions and body gestures speak a thousand words. Not only was he brilliant as the gangster he also plays another role as a chinese servant, (a somewhat similar role he would reprise 2 years later in the film Shadows) the transformation is astonishing! Thats why he is called a man of a thousand faces!

The story is about Black Mike's attempt to frame an affluent citizen in a crime, and then have him turn against the law because of his time spent in jail as an innocent. Most of the story focuses on the man's daughter who turns to a life of crime by stealing some expensive jewelry. There is tons of swindling and double crossing in this film.

This Film Directed by 'Freaks' Director Todd Browning is a tense thriller that can still keep you riveted to your seat. It is most saddening that many of Lon Chaney's films are lost, the quality is pretty bad on this one with last reel being totally washed out. Something must be done to restore all of these films or we will loose an integral part of film history, and one of best actors ever!

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