The Penalty (1920)
Genre: Silent Crime Drama Thriller
Directed By: Wallace Worsley (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Overview: After an accidental double leg amputation from an incompetent doctor, a young boy grows into a bitter criminal mastermind, vowing his vengeance for the wrong done unto him.
Acting: Lon does his usual slightly melodramatic silent portrayal rather well. How we didn't see his legs during the scenes where he walked around, I have no idea. I guess the man of a thousand faces can also pull off leglessness. This is one of those silent films crime thrillers that has all the pantomime overexpression, but in a good way. It's always just a sliver over the top without going overboard. It's quaint.
Cinematography: The neatest thing would be the no legs and the little inventions that Blizzard (our anti-hero) devises to get around. Aside from that the film was standard fare in the looks department, professional as it was.
Script: There's quite a bit of explaining in this, many intertitles to take us through what people are feeling and the dilemmas that Blizzard and his crew go through and there's no problem with motivations or explanations of the big evil master plan (as easy as it would be to defeat). Nothing fantastic but still a good time.
Plot: Whenever I describe the plot to people (boy turns evil at incompetent doctor's amputation) they all look at me like I'm crazy for being intrigued by it. Look, it's better than most premises to most movies, especially Romantic Comedies. This story flowed, it was interesting without any boring moments. Though some of it was a little forced, that was the joy of it. The ending might have been a little bit of a cop out, but at least it's original.
Mood: The mood could have been more sinister cackling bad-guy, more tragic Film Noir. If they had gone that route this could have made a classic film, all the elements were there. Sadly, for as interesting as this film was, it did lack in original mood-setting moments, but again, I only expect to be wowed because I'm ever the critic.
Overall Rating: 70% (Not Something I felt I was 'Subjected To')
Aftertaste: The barely passing grade of a film that I'm sure no one else will ever see. I'd rather see this a hundred times than something Starring JLo opposite Matthew McConaughey.
Lon Chaney's done hunchback, no arms, no legs and a monstrous fanged face. If you combine all of his roles he'd be an ugly lump with a lump. Lon never ceases to amaze me. Even if from time to time his movies aren't amazing, his roles always are. Imagine being the star who's claim to fame is being the freak in everything? That's kind of cool if you ask me.