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Story of an inventor who, suffering betrayal in life, makes a career of it by becoming a clown whose act consists of getting slapped by all the other clowns. He falls in love with another circus performer, and those who betrayed him enter his life yet again. Written by
Robert Tonsing <email@example.com>
"He Who Gets Slapped" was originally a Russian book by Leonid Andreyev and was translated into English and adapted for the stage by Gregory Zillboorg. It opened on Jan. 9, 1922 at the Garrick Theatre in New York and ran for 182 performances. With the exception of Consuelo (Norma Shearer's character), most of the characters in the stage production did not have names. The Lon Chaney character in the play was simply "He", and the others "a Juggler," "an Acrobat", etc. MGM did not credit Zillboorg for his theatrical adaptation. See more »
During part of the scene where the lion is loose in the room, Beaumont is seen with no, or hardly any, black makeup around his right eye. Before and after this scene, both eyes are made up. See more »
Opening Dialogue Card:
In the grim comedy of life, it has been wisely said that the last laugh is the best.
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A celebrated circus clown, HE Who Gets Slapped, plots the punishment of two evil aristocrats.
Lon Chaney, the Silent Screen's master chameleon, adds another portrait to his gallery of pathetic grotesques. This time he plays a scientist who becomes a clown after his former life is destroyed by his adulterous wife and a faithless friend. A young woman provides him with someone to secretly adore, until her wicked father threatens to ruin her happiness. Chaney's face is an absolute wonder to watch as it registers pain, anguish, distress and unrequited passion, underlining the modern reassessment of him as one of cinema's greatest actors. Uninhibited in his circus costume & makeup, he provides no doubt but that he, under different circumstances, could have become a marvelous big top clown.
This was the first release of the new film company merger Metro-Goldwyn, thus making Chaney their first star, and was an important rung up the ladder for the two performers playing the young lovers. Norma Shearer & John Gilbert would soon be major movie celebrities--here they give good account of themselves as the circus' daredevil & bareback riders, and as Chaney's truest friends (both unaware of his love for Miss Shearer). In a film full of circus excitement, the director has given the young couple a moment of unexpected beauty: whilst on a picnic their innocent affections are noticed by a passing peasant, who gives the call of the cuckoo as the perfect grace note to their bucolic joy.
Marc McDermott as a brutal Baron and Tully Marshall as a dissolute Count make villains well worthy of the harshest retribution. Comic Ford Sterling plays one of Chaney's fellow clowns.
The Studio gave this silent film fine production values, while director Victor Sjöström added little embellishments of cinematic flair, dealing with scenes of mysterious clown figures representing fate, which enhance the film.
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