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 »
A secret society holds a meeting to determine what to do about a powerful and dangerous man whom they have been studying closely for the past three months. They all agree that he deserves to die. Two of the members, Farallone and Forrest, are both in love with Lilith, the group's only female member. But Lilith accepts neither of them, preferring to devote herself to the group's cause. When the group meets again and deals cards to all the members, Forrest draws the ace of hearts, meaning that he will be the one to carry out the assassination. Lilith then suddenly agrees to marry him, in order to give him courage. But after their first night together, both of them begin to feel differently about what they have planned.Written by
The original ending to the film picked up after the bomb explodes at the meeting headquarters. Forrest and Lillith are living in a cabin in the woods, and believe that they are safe thanks to Farralone. Rushing back to the cabin to warn Lillith, he sees Morgridge, who tells him that they have nothing to fear - Farralone's sacrifice has taught him that love is the solution, not destruction. This ending was cut on the request of Samuel Goldwyn, who felt that it was too contrived and that the lovers reading about it in the newspaper was a much more satisfying ending. See more »
The title frame simply shows a picture of a playing card, the ace of hearts. See more »
Tense, Interesting Drama With A Typically Fine Performance From Chaney
This tense, interesting drama features a story full of suspense and a typically fine performance by Lon Chaney. The combination of an assassination plot with a romantic rivalry is hardly unique, but it works particularly well in this setting, and it is used to bring out a number of ideas with significance that go beyond the events themselves. Although set in its own era and to some degree connected with political concerns of the early 1920s, it probably works even better when it is removed from the historical context, since this allows the plot to work on a higher level.
It starts with a secret society planning the death of a powerful man who in some undefined way poses a menace to society. It's both interesting and effective that the particular offenses of 'the man who has lived too long' are never detailed. Thus, instead of focusing a debate on whether or not the specific things he has done ought to be punished, the questions become broader: whether it is right to use violence to punish a dangerous or evil person outside of the law, and whether it would ever be right to harm innocent persons in the process. These kinds of questions are at least as important now as they were at the time, and the movie provides a worthwhile perspective.
Chaney's character here has little of the make-up and disguises for which Chaney was well- known, so that his considerable acting talents do the work instead. His character is at the same time a broken-hearted suitor and a vengeful member of the radical group, often with conflicting motives, which gives Chaney lots of material to work with.
The first part sets up the story in a careful and intriguing way. The middle part moves more slowly, and focuses most of the attention on the radical couple played by Leatrice Joy and John Bowers. Both are adequate, but their scenes together sometimes lack intensity, and even in limited screen time Chaney still has the stronger presence during this stretch. The couple's agonized soul-searching then sets up some very tense moments in the last part of the movie.
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