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32 Days of Halloween II, Day 19: Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney with makeup kit

Lon Chaney Sr. was an amazing actor, not just because he could transform himself using really crazy makeup techniques for the age but because he could deliver a stunning performance underneath all of that stuff. We’ve posted his Hunchback and Phantom. But he had a freaking huge filmography. Here’s some snippets I was able to find online, just to broaden your Chaney Sr. horizons:

First, here’s The Miracle Man from 1919…or what’s left of it. This is apparently all the extant footage. Chaney here plays a contortionist who’s also a con man and thus poses as a cripple to be “healed” by a village healer. Of course things go a bit awry.

Direct link for the feedreaders.
Here is a brief snippet of him playing a legless crime lord in The Penalty, long before you could just CG away somebody’s legs. You just had to strap them back. It’s short but I just wanted you to see this.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

Also, check out this sculpture of his character from The Penalty. Wild.

Here he is playing Fagin in Oliver Twist. You might recognize Oliver…that’s Jackie Coogan, perhaps most famous for being the kid in The Kid.

Update: Video removed. If anybody finds it again, please let me know.

He Who Gets Slapped stars Chaney as a guy who gets slapped. It’s a very short film. Kidding, he’s a scientific genius who gets betrayed by everyone and runs away to join the circus. Just watch what Chaney can do with his face here…even with no crazed makeup. Amazing.

Update: Video removed. If anybody finds it again, please let me know.

After playing a guy with no legs, in The Unknown he plays an armless knife thrower. That’s Joan Crawford he’s shooting and throwing knives at. And the director was Tod Browning, who brought you Freaks and Dracula, among others.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

West of Zanzibar from 1928, in which Chaney plays a magician who loses his wife and also the use of his legs to another man. Wait. I don’t mean the man in question has use of Chaney’s character’s legs, I…never mind. Just watch the clip. BTW, that other man who doesn’t have the use of Chaney’s legs? Lionel Barrymore.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

And lastly, a snippet from his final film, a “talkie” remake of The Unholy Three. His only “talkie.”

Direct link for the feedreaders.

P.S. Last year at this time we were checking out the trailer for the original Hitcher.

Buy Stuff – It Supports the Site!
  • Both the surviving footage of The Miracle Man and The Penalty are available from Kino. Buy it from Amazon here.
  • Oliver Twist is available from Image Entertainment. Buy it from Amazon here.
  • He Who Gets Slapped does not appear to be in print on DVD, and the only full version I could find online for you is here, and it’s got title cards AND subtitles. Which is a bit annoying. Unless you speak French. Well then it’s probably annoying linguistically in the opposite direction.
  • The Unknown is available on the TCM Archives: Lon Chaney Collection. Buy it from Amazon here.
  • West of Zanzibar and The Unholy Three do not appear to be in print on DVD.