6.1/10
28
4 user

The Wonderful Chance (1920)

Upon leaving prison, an ex con vows to go straight, but circumstances force him to return to crime. Meanwhile, a gang of crooks kidnaps a visiting British aristocrat, but the ex-con has an ... See full summary »

Director:

George Archainbaud

Writers:

H.H. Van Loan (story), Mary Murillo (scenario) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Eugene O'Brien ... Lord Birmingham / 'Swagger' Barlow
Martha Mansfield ... Peggy Winton
Tom Blake Tom Blake ... 'Red' Dugan
Rudolph Valentino ... Joe Klingsby
Joseph Flanagan Joseph Flanagan ... Haggerty (as Joe Flanagan)
Warren Cook Warren Cook ... Parker Winton
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Storyline

Upon leaving prison, an ex con vows to go straight, but circumstances force him to return to crime. Meanwhile, a gang of crooks kidnaps a visiting British aristocrat, but the ex-con has an incredible likeness to the Englishman, and his intended hosts take him home to their mansion. Written by WesternOne

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 September 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Thug See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in The Nickelette (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Valentino's part is tiny; O'Brien takes all the screen time.
17 August 2008 | by F Gwynplaine MacIntyreSee all my reviews

'The Wonderful Chance' is even worse than my IMDb colleague Arne Andersen has made it seem. I know from off-site conversations with Arne that he's a major Valentino fan; unfortunately, he perceives this as a Valentino movie, when in fact Rudy has very much a supporting role. Also, Arne too kindly describes the plot of this film as 'absurdist' (as in Ionesco or Pirandello) when in fact it's merely absurd (as in stupid).

Semi-handsome Eugene O'Brien plays a hard-boiled yegg named Swagger Barlow: a safe-cracker who's just gone on the out after a long stretch inside. Barlow has discovered that he's (very conveniently) the exact double of Lord Birmingham, an English peer. (Lord Birmingham is from a wealthy blue-blood family, but evidently they couldn't afford to buy him a forename: he's just Lord Birmingham, in the same spirit as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Earl Hines. Barlow doesn't seem to have a forename either; maybe they're twins, separated at birth.) Just when we've recovered from that first coincidence, here comes a bigger one. Lord Birmingham is kidnapped ... so Barlow steps into the breach and the breeches. The safe-cracker moves into the Ritz (a Ritz cracker?) and he is straight away accepted as the English peer.

This premise is just vaguely plausible in a silent film, since we're spared the ordeal of hearing a Yank actor attempting a cut-glass English accent. O'Brien merely speaks his lines as needed, and most of the audience probably don't even think about his accent. (In 1920, most American film-goers had likely never heard an English accent: I know that the converse was true.) Still, I couldn't accept that a working-class American, raised in poverty or the lower classes, would be an exact double of an Englishman raised in privilege since birth. I'll rate this mess 4 out of 10, mostly for its sheer audacity.


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