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The Penalty [Import]
|List Price:||CDN$ 27.88|
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Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces, was no mere makeup wizard, as this dark, deviant crime drama shows. Strapping his legs into a painful leather harness to play a double-amputee underworld kingpin, Chaney scrambles through the film like a human spider weaving his criminal web across San Francisco with equal parts seduction and terror. Crippled as child by an incompetent doctor, he dedicates his life to vengeance in a double-barreled plot that will bring both the city and the doctor (now an honored physician) to their knees. Director Wallace Worsley (who later collaborated with Chaney on his legendary Hunchback of Notre Dame) peppers the busy plot with bizarre touches of sexual menace and sadism, and he creates a wicked atmosphere of corruption and murder that implicates every character. Even the absurd twist of a happy ending can't wipe that away. --Sean AxmakerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story finds Chaney's younger self/character in bed.He has been in a terrible accident on the street and he has a contusion on the back of his head and a young inexperienced doctor has just amputated his legs just above the knee.A consulting doctor also on the scene tells the young doctor he operated in haste and should not have removed the boys legs.When the boys grieving parents arrive the doctors circle the wagons,to coin a phrase,to protect the mistake.However the young Chaney has overheard the doctors talking and tries through his grief to tell his parents the truth.The doctors assuage the parents by telling them he is just delusional because of the operation he has just undergone.
Fade out and fast forward.Chaney is now grown up and on his own in San Fransisco.His father kicked him out when he was 15 because of his deformity and now he has risen to become the kingpin of the SF underworld.However revenge has always been in his heart of hearts.When the daughter of the now older surgeon(who amputated his legs) puts an ad in the paper for a model to pose for a sculpture,Chaney leaps at the chance.
Alongside this story runs a parallel one and it has to do with the cops.They have put an undercover policewoman inside Chaney's close circle.They want to know exactly what Chaney is up to.While Chaney goes for poses at the artist's apartment,she snoops around.Read more ›
Unfortunately, the supporting cast is not nearly as fascinating as Blizzard. With the exception of Rose, they are just the standard gangster film characters. (The eager young man, the innocent young girl, the dogged investigater) Whenever Blizzard is onscreen, the movie really works and the viewer misses him when he is not there. Chaney takes a completely horrid character and makes him almost likable. It's no wonder this was the movie that made Chaney a real star.
The plot involves Chaney's character, Blizzard, seeking revenge on the imcompetant doctor who amputated Blizzard's legs at the beginning of the movie. Meanwhile, the police are investigating Blizzard, hoping to bring down his entire gang.
The print is nice enough, quite watchable. The soundtrack is another matter. It consists of NIN sounding loops and drumbeats. Some silent movie fans are purists when it comes to music and some are not. I am in the middle. I would have preferred a more traditional soundtrack (the clangs and bangs are distracting sometimes) but it did not wholly hamper my enjoyment of the film. I just want to give a warning to any traditionalists.
The DVD boasts a suprising amount of extras for a silent film. A 1914 western short starring Chaney. I enjoyed seeing how little a western changed between the teens and the fifties! Also,and a brief but well-done tour of Chaney's makeup case.Read more ›
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