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The Penalty (1920)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 8 August 1920 (Canada)
A deformed criminal mastermind plans to loot the city of San Francisco as well as revenge himself on the doctor who mistakenly amputated his legs.


Wallace Worsley


Gouverneur Morris (by), Gouverneur Morris (adapted from his famous novel) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Charles Clary ... Dr. Ferris
Doris Pawn ... Barbary Nell
Jim Mason ... Frisco Pete (as James Mason)
Lon Chaney ... Blizzard
Milton Ross Milton Ross ... Lichtenstein
Ethel Grey Terry ... Rose
Kenneth Harlan ... Dr. Wilmot Allen
Claire Adams ... Barbara Ferris


Blizzard, deranged from a childhood operation in which both his legs were perhaps needlessly amputated after an accident, becomes a vicious criminal, and eventually mob leader of the San Francisco underworld. Out for revenge against the surgeon who performed his operation, he undergoes brain surgery which has a chance of altering his anti-social behavior. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An amazing story of a man with half a body and half a soul. (Print Ad- Aurora daily Star, ((Aurora, Ills.)) 25 May 1921) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Lon Chaney had both of his lower legs tied back and had to walk on his kneecaps for his role as an amputee. It was so painful he could only have his legs tied back for a few minutes at a time, and his knee muscles sustained permanent damage. See more »


Blizzard: Rose, my dear! Under the piano, my darling - we'll have some music. I have a feeling I shall waft you into Heaven.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no cast list, but the 8 main actors and their character names are credited in the inter-titles as each appear in the film. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original release featured a short epilogue with Chaney as himself walking down a flight of stairs. It was shown simply to prove that the actor was not a real amputee. See more »

User Reviews

Lon Chaney - one of his best performances...great plot.
13 October 2003 | by rmartynaSee all my reviews

I saw this film on the big screen. From the beginning, one may get the impression that this could be one of the "been there...seen this" plots. Not true. The storyline is full of twists and turns throughout. Even the title has a twist at the end of the movie. While watching the plot unfold, I thought that it referred to the penalty the doctor and his family had to pay for the operation performed on Blizzard as a boy (Lon Chaney's character), making him handicaped...not so! Another twist is the female detective's turning from her investigation to admiration of Blizzard; the twist in the operation procedure performed on Blizzard to restore his legs; and then, the final twist at the end of the movie. Not what you would have expected...however, the final "penalty" is paid.

To sum it up...great actor and great story. Worth a repeat viewing. Rating: 9/10

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None | English

Release Date:

8 August 1920 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Bűntetés See more »


Box Office


$88,868 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(2004 alternate)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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