6.1/10
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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 »

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Cast

Cast overview:
... Lord Birmingham / 'Swagger' Barlow
... Peggy Winton
Tom Blake ... 'Red' Dugan
... Joe Klingsby
Joseph Flanagan ... Haggerty (as Joe Flanagan)
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

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Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

27 September 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Thug  »

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1.33 : 1
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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 See 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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