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 »
Mysterious, sinister Wilse Dilling receives a coded message to go to the home of Queen Ann, a powerful crime boss. When Wilse meets with her, she sends him to the town of Fallbrook, where he is to await her instructions. Being practically wheelchair-bound has not stopped Dilling from committing a lengthy series of crimes, but to his surprise, he finds that the small town atmosphere makes him feel differently about everything. He finds a good friend in banker's daughter Gertrude Hadley, who helps him believe that he can make a fresh start. But Wilse's new-found contentment is soon shattered by a series of new developments. Written by
A Jewel Production. Universal, lacking a proprietary theater chain, devised a 3-tiered branding system to enable it to market its feature product to independent theater owners: Red Feather (low budget programmers), Bluebird (mainstream releases) and Jewel (prestige productions capable of drawing higher roadshow ticket prices). This branding system ended in late 1929. See more »
At about 43:05, Wilse is crossing a room in Anne's house. He moves his bad right foot which is paralyzed throughout the film. See more »
I love Chaney. He had an extremely expressive face, and the sort of body language that's seen all too rarely, especially these days. In this film, where his character is a hard-bitten criminal softening under the influence of small-town life, he really uses his talents. His ability to really LOOK disabled is amazing; the way he drags himself around on his hands, twisted legs trailing behind him, is fascinating.
This isn't one of Chaney's "thousand faces" roles - you can actually see what he really looked like - but well worth watching, for Chaney alone. It's a shame that the role of the leading lady wasn't fleshed out; she's so good and pure that she's completely boring; I couldn't understand why anyone could stand this woman's company for more than a few minutes, since she has no faults. Had she been a well-rounded character, his love for her would have been believable (not that there's anything wrong with Chaney's portrayal of tormented, unrequited love).
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