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 »
Raised by his grandfather to adhere to the ancient laws of China, Mandarin Wu is a strict authoritarian. However, he is a doting father to his beautiful daughter Nang Ping. Nang Ping is to be married to a man of her father's choosing, a man she does not even know. But she falls in love with a dashing British visitor to China, Basil Gregory. Basil informs Nang Ping that he must return to Britain with his family, but she surprises him with the revelation that she carries his child. Wu learns of his daughter's dishonor and lets the ancient laws of China lead him relentlessly toward tragedy. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For the hundred-year-old look, Wu Chaney build up his cheekbones and lips with cotton and collodion. Into his nostrils were inserted the ends of cigar holders and the long fingernails were constructed from strips of painted film stock. He used fish skin to fashion an Oriental cast to his eyes and grey crepe hair was used for the mustache and goatee. The make-up procedures took from four to six hours to apply. See more »
[to Nang Ping]
Love is beautiful, my darling, and very sweet. Have no fear.
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In this weighted telling of the clash of two cultures Lon Chaney gives two magnificent portrayals of a Chinese Patriarch and his son bound to an ancient Cantonese Tradition regarding honor. The problem is the story pitting American mother Courage against ancient, outmoded bloodthirsty and sadistic Chinese tradition. In spite of its blatant bias Chaney brings to both elder and younger. admirable qualities with a certain dignity.
Raised by a strict grandfather Wu is determined to keep the Chinese tradition of choosing his daughter's husband to be sight unseen. She rebels when she meets a Britisher who in a nice touch has to climb over a wall to meet her. They get serious she dishonors the family, she must die. And that's not all.
With the Chinese Exclusion Act in place until 1943 one might see how easy it was to make one culture look so good and one so hostile. It's handsomely designed safely composed in favor of Chaney's beautifully nuanced and restrained performances while Rene Adoree as Wu's daughter Nang Ping seems contrived in comparison to Anna Mae Wong in a supporting role who would have brought so much more to the lead.
Even with it's blatant xenophobic thrust Mr. Wu is a fascinating document for the times of social acceptance. Just as much is to be said for the artistry of Mr. Chaney.
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