London's Limehouse District, "with its lust, greed, and love," lightly blankets its citizens in a sea of fog. There, ambidextrous Lon Chaney (as Dan Tate) successfully spends his nights thieving as "The Blackbird"; and, otherwise, masquerading as his own benevolent, but deformed, brother "The Bishop". Mr. Chaney likes to visit the local pub, where he falls for charming French entertainer Renée Adorée (as Fifi Lorraine). But, Ms. Adorée also attracts suave Owen Moore (as Bertram P. Glayde). Mr. Moore is a rival crook, who goes by the name "West End Bertie". So, conniving Chaney uses his respectable "Bishop" disguise to come between the increasingly more successful Adorée-Moore romance.
This is a formulaic Browning/Chaney film, featuring one of the versatile actor's lesser "disguises". For his transformation, Cheney twists an arm and a leg out of shape. It's more difficult than it looks to walk around in the disjointed position. Of course, Chaney's performance is outstanding. In particular, watch his reaction shots, which are incredibly accurate in mirroring whatever he is looking at, or reacting to. Co-stars Moore and Adorée also shine. Adorée had just been seen in "The Big Parade", and Moore has one of his meatier 1920s roles. Also enjoyable is Doris Lloyd (as "Limehouse" Polly), the ex-wife who loves Chaney.
******* The Blackbird (1926) Tod Browning ~ Lon Chaney, Owen Moore, Renée Adorée
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