'Tiger' Haynes is a respected trapper of jungle beasts for zoos and circuses and a doting father to his beautiful young daughter Toyo. When he finds out that she's fallen in love with Bobby Bailey, the son of a wealthy circus owner he frequently deals with, Haynes is initially suspicious of the young man's motives. However, Bailey's sincerity soon wins him over, and they take the river boat to Saigon together to see the young man's father. While on board Bobby meets the femme fatale cougar, Mme. de Sylva, who immediately desires the young man and easily seduces him. In reality, she is Toyo's mother and a notoriously predatory seductress. Tiger adamantly insinuates himself between de Sylva and her latest conquest and seemingly breaks up the romance and returns home to oversee Toyo and Bobby's wedding, but Toyo's mother unexpectedly arrives with the objective of vamping Bobby. In order to avoid having Toyo's heart broken by her mother, Tiger resorts to the 'law of the jungle.' Written by
Not Quite Up to the Standards of Earlier Chaney/Browning Films
Where East is East (1929)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Set in China, Lon Chaney plays animal trapper Tiger Haynes who has spent his entire life making sure his daughter (Lupe Velez) is happy. She informs him that she's going to marry a man (Lloyd Hughes) but soon her estranged mother (Estelle Taylor) shows up to cause trouble and try to steal the man from her. This would be the final time that star Chaney and director Browning would work together and sadly it's not nearly as good as many of their films together. This certainly isn't a bad movie but at the same time when you consider the talent involved you can't help but be somewhat disappointed. Those expecting a horror film or for that matter anything bizarre are going to be disappointed because this is a pretty straight melodrama. The story itself is a pretty weak one as you sit there waiting for some sort of big revelation to happen but it really never does. The story is played right down the middle and when the film is over you get pretty much everything you'd expect but at the same time you'll be wondering what the entire point was. There really aren't any major twists in the story and anyone will see the ending coming. What makes the film worth viewing are the performances with Chaney leading the way. It's a shame some people have labeled him (incorrectly) a "horror star" because he was always capable of so much more and you can see that here. It's hard to think of very many other actors who could deliver so much emotion in their face but Chaney delivers the goods and manages to make Tiger a memorable character. Thankfully he has a strong supporting cast with Taylor doing a terrific job in her part. The screenplay doesn't do her any favors but the actor is really terrific on screen and you can't help be drawn to her character. Velez is excellent in her role and manages to have a great relationship with Chaney. Their early scenes together are so fun because they really do come across as a real father and daughter. The sex appeal is also quite high with Velez. There's no question the screenplay is a problem but another issue is the direction by Browning. Those expecting to see that wonderful style and vision are going to be disappointed because this looks like anyone could have directed it. Browning turned in some lazy directorial jobs in this period and sadly this is one of them. With that said, fans of Chaney will certainly want to check it out and at just 67-minutes there's really nothing too bad that would make you want to stay away.
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