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 »
By contrast, I was relatively satisfied with THE BLACK BIRD. The plot is somewhat derivative (particularly of THE PENALTY ), but Chaney is in fine form here. The film goes a long way in simulating the Limehouse atmosphere, even where dialogue is concerned (which comes off as fairly hilarious if quite endearing).
The romantic leads, as played by Owen Moore and Renee' Adoree', are above average in this case; in fact, Moore (as a gentleman crook) is more of an anti-hero here and creates an interesting contrast to Chaney, who himself alternates between the villainous 'Black Bird' and the saintly 'Bishop' throughout.
For a Browning/Chaney effort, the film is fairly conventional and comes off as somewhat protracted (particularly the overly contrived ending) when compared to THE UNKNOWN (1927). Chaney's (deceptive) physical deformity of his 'Bishop' character is the sole weird element in evidence and, for once, here we get a chance to observe - on camera - the way Chaney accomplishes this amazing feat!
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