The end credits have a dedication to "Hugh M. Hefner". Hugh Marston Hefner of Playboy fame was born in 1926- the same year as The Blackbird's release. See more »
Want me to tell your Dad you're with a Chink?
[Young lady starts to cry]
Go 'ome and get that paint off your face!
[Kicks young lady in her behind as she leaves the vaudeville theater]
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Lon Chaney gets to play his own evil twin in this Tod Browning crime adventure. The "Blackbird" is a low-life criminal who falls in love with Fifi, a music hall performer. Unfortunately, someone else loves her too: posh "West End Bertie," who wears a topper and a monocle like Bertie Wooster, but who's actually a crook himself, not above robbing his own friends while they're out slumming (including watching "chinkys" smoking opium).
The Blackbird and Bertie decide to become a team, but tension mounts as the Blackbird realizes that Fifi is falling for Bertie. Mixed in to the plot is the Blackbird's ex, who seems on a crusade to reform him, and his brother 'The Bishop', a helpless cripple known for his work among the poor. Blackbird and Bishop share a room but are never seen together.
The ending is tragic, as could be expected, but not without a trace of "cornball."
Browning's direction is excellent. He sets up the Limehouse location at the opening by showing a sequence of faces that evoke the atmosphere more than a mere set could do. He knew how to get the best out of Chaney, but the others in the cast also do a fine job with their facial expressions, all masterfully captured by Browning. The new score by Robert Israel, containing snippets from Chopin and others, fits the period well and never intrudes.
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