Please view these hard to find Home movies of silent film actor Lon Chaney in which the Phantom of The Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame is caught unmasked and without makeup, later in fullscreen. Untill then, as the mysteries of London unfold at Midnight.
Scott Lord on Silent Film
Not all coffins contain merely a signet ring, pieces of splintered wooden stakes and strewn flowers from mouldy garlic plants, nor are theaters the only dark places where we search for worlds of the public sphere that support the fantasies of the private. In regard to audience reception, Robert Gordon Andersson, in his volume Faces, Forms and Films, the artistry of Lon Chaney, wrote, "The audiences of the motion picture were composed of many elements: the critics, the seekers of art, but mainly those who wanted to be entertained and to escape the world in which they lived".
Although only its director, Leslie H. Hiscott, may know the whereabouts of The Missing Rembrant, die hard fans of Arthur Wotner and Ian Fleming can only wonder. The director is not only known to fans of Sherlock Holmes but is also listed as the director of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, under the title Alibi, and of the film Black Coffee.
Still, there are several films that are now lost that appeared not only on the theater marquee, but in bookstores; Grosset and Dunlap having published Photoplay Editions of films rewritten as novels, in including intertextual photos, the illustrated photoplay edition of the novel London After Midnight, written by Marie Coolidge Rask, was published in 1928. Just as lost films have left behind their accompanying movie posters, as well as full page magazine advertisements that serve very much like movie posters when deciding not if we should see the film but what the film was like when first seen, each hardcover copy of an film adaptation into novel included a dustjacket, art that gives information about missing films: within there being Lost Films, Found Magazines.
Publicity stills of Lon Chaney in the lost film "London After Midnight" can be found in many fan magazines published during the first run of the silent film, including Photoplay Magzine, which featured a biography of Chaney written by Ruth Waterbury, famous for her biographical series on Greta Garbo. An editorial in Screenland magazine claimed that when Lon Chaney was only an extra he would spend threehours a day putting on make up in order to ne noticed in a crowd scene, "Your success is themeasureof your individuality." Whether or not this is "fluff" or not, the periodical succinctly noted in a photocaption, "Lon Chaney is seldom photographed out of character."
Universal Weekly during 1922 advertised Lon Chaney starring in "The Trap", still regonizing Chaney as more of a character actor rather than a genre superstar- the publication pulled audiences into theaters with the drama of Herbert Rawlinson supported by Virginia Vali in "The Black Box", a "smashing melodrama of mystery, romance and thrills from the famous novel by Louis Joseph Vance. Directed by Stuart Paton." The publication proclaimed the appeal of the film, "The 'crook' play, with lots of mystery and thrills; it's just what the public wants now." Notably, in Denmark, where the detective genre had flourished ten years earlier, post-war production had dwindled to where it had been superseded by exporting screen adaptations of the novels of Charles Dickens. Tod Browning was directing Priscilla Dean in the Universal film "Under Two Flags", "The Greatest Romantic Spectacular of All Time."
During 1923, Universal Weekly, a magazine published by Universal Jewel and Universal-Super Jewel films, featured advertisements for two of the reigning movie queens at Universal, Priscilla Dean, who was appearing in Drifting, and Virginia Valli, appearing on screen in A Lady of Quality. It claimed that "millions will read this advertising in The Saturday Evening Post." and included outlines for particular Exploitation Campaigns. The Motion Picture News Booking Guide of 1924 provided a brief synopsis of the film "Drifting", "Melodrama with a Chinese locale dealing with the dope game and efforts of those against it to kill it and those in it to get away with the big stakes."
The six reel film "Wicked Darling", directed by Tod Browning and starring Priscilla Dean and Lon Chaneyis famous for not being a lost film- apparently there was one acceptable print of the film held by Pathe Film Musuem in the Netherlands. It is a crime drama and in fact the first film on which Chaney and Browning collaborated. Before making the film, Dean had been touted by the studio as the "Wonder of the Year", her having appeared in "The Wildcat of Paris" and "A Silk-Lined Burgler".
" 'To be wicked,' said Lon Chaney, in a recent interview, 'is to my mind one of the most difficult things for an actor to undertake. And at the same time it is one of the most infinitely interesting and fascinating sides of the actor's art'." Chaney was quoted by The Moving Picture World during the first run publicity campaign for the film "Outside the Law". The article, unaware that Lon Chaney would soon become the Man of a Thousand Faces and that Tod Browning would direct horror film, was titled "Best Bad Man on Screen Enjoys Being Wicked" and descried that Browning had written the film by its "being concieved of with Chaney in mind"- Chaney the villian, but not yet Chaney the monster. "as wicked a gangster that ever flourished in any underworld" was included by the periodical as a photocaption. "Browning has used his vivid imagination in its conception and Chaney his inimitable art in its execution". The scenario was in fact credited to photplaywright Waldemar Young and the story from which he adapted it attributed to the author Evelyn Campbell, with Browning credited for the production. The periodical The Moving Picture Weekly saw publicity for the film as hinging upon actress Pricilla Dean as well as actor Lon Chaney and offered "Advertising Catch Lines" for the film which included, "He hated a thief; she had his necklace in her pocket." and "A thief, but a thoroughbred". It saw Pricilla Dean as the star of the film and listed her with top billing, as in fact many full page advertisements did, the magazine boasting of the actress having "half a dozen notable successes already to her credit."
One writer has noted that director Tod Browning uses almost no camera movement during the filming of the 1921 film "Outside the Law". The technique of the film is typified by its cross-cutting. Lucien Hubbard was quoted by Motion Picture News as having contributed as a writer on the continuity of "Outside the Law" and as a scenario editor, a firm believer in "the superiority for picture purposes of the story written for the screen, not the play or novel". Hubbard explained, "Given equal thought and preparation it is evident that a story written expressly for the pictures will be more effective than one designed for other medium, and then trimmed and altered to fit. in 'Outside the Law' we had this advantage, for so experienced a director is Browning thinks I terms of pictures. There was no excess verbiage to dispose of, no flowing description of mental processes that could not be translated to the screen." What Hubbard might be alluding to is the exigencies of the Photoplay and female spectatorship, perhaps, a putting the female into the scene, or putting the female into the plot, tailored by the needs of the director as the narrative voice behind the lens. Motion PIcture World also saw the screenplay as an original endeavor, "When Tod Browning wrote 'Outside the Law' for Priscilla Dean, he not only provided this popular Universal star with the best role of her career, but created a character especially for Lon Chaney, than whom there's no more accomplished actor on the screen. The director knows better than any other writer the dramatic heights which Chaney can scale and he created a role that permits him to sound the depths of deviltry and to excessive his dramatic skill to the utmost." The film spotlights Lon Chaney with actress Priscilla Dean and her real life husband, Wheeler Oakman. And yet if it seems as though Tod Browning and Lon Chaney would tire of the crime drama and eventually leave actress Priscilla Dean behind to establish a genre of horror film, Prsicilla Dean very quickly had retained top billing at Universal during 1921 with two films made for director Stuart Paton, "Reputation" and "Conflict", both establishing her as a dramatic leading lady.
Motion Picture News in 1923 reported that, "Wallace Worsley, the director, aided by Perley, Poore Sherman and E.T. Lowe Jr, the adapters, as well as by Chaney, have taken extraordinary measures to assure that every character of the fifteenth century classic will be faithfully reproduced in the screen version of Hugo's book" The announcement was accompanied by the title, "Gladys Brockwell Added to 'Hunchback' Cast", the actress chosen to support the already signed Lon Chaney Exhibitor's Herald provided eight stills from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in a two page layout during 1923, "The locale is Paris of 1482 and Notre Dame Cathedral is reproduced as it appeared at that time...That interiors were not neglected in the interest of exterior elaborateness is shown in another photograph on the opposite page." The magazine noted that over 4,000 actors were employed during the filming.
Exhibitor's Herald reviewed "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" during 1923. "The outstanding figure of the play is the hunchback- Lon Chaney. Chaney appears in a most extraordinary make up and the first impression is that of grotesqueness, and at that moment of first appearance, it hardly seems possible that the characterization can ever become real and vital, but before many scenes are passed, Chaney becomes convincing in a remarkable degree. It seems to us that Chaney in this production has just about touched the high mark of character acting in pictures because he not only registers effectively the called for touches of the role, but in addition, he puts over from behind his hideous mask a make up a spiritual phase of the character that unquestionably has been the chief feature in making the Victor Hugo story immortal."
The criteria as to whether a film is lost or not, whether only an incomplete version exists, is whether it's general release print survives. The original release print of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was 12 reels with 10 reels released later to theaters. Therefore although there were 12 reels of its Photoplay filmed, the film is considered to survive today in its complete form with the fragment of two reels missing as they were not seen by movie goers during its first run, now treated as deleted scenes.
During 1925,in her article "The Phantom of Hollywood" for Picture Play Magazine, Doris Denbo gave a first hand account of having met Lon Chaney. "When I was introduced to him on the set I found him simple, kindly and thoughtful. I quite forgot I was talking to the man of many horrible forms and felt as though I might be conversing with a college professor, but this impression was rudely broken by a call form the set, 'Allright, Mr. Chaney- we're ready.' With the manners of a Valentino, he left my side and disappeared, only to appear a few minutes later transformed. My personal companion had become a revengeful lusting creature, ugly beyond description." To caption an earlier page of still photographs, Picture Play Magazine described "The Phantom of the Opera" as a "film of contrasts in which Mary Philbin and Lon Chaney represent the opposite motifs of light and gayety and darkness and horror." During the summer of 1925, Lon Chaney was on the magazine's cover for the film The Phantom of the Opera. The Film Daily of 1925 reported of the film's enigmatic, or perhaps the film's eerie, star, The question may arise whether women will like the appearance of Chaney as the Phantom. he is first shown with a a mask, but when the mask is pulled away the distorted features may appear unpleasant to some, but at that he gives a great performance and again demonstrates that his is a master of make-up." The magazine, while describing the type of story as a "dramatic mystery" and a "thrilling mystery story", not only gave credit to the film's director, but noted the supplemental work of Edward Sedgewick. The magazine was consistent with the advertisements run by the studio itself as it recommended a Box Office Angle for the film, "Should get a lot of money in the larger houses particularly." Motion Picture Magazine of 1925 promised that the spectatorship of audience reception would be an exchange of commodification, "You will have all the thrills you hope for: murders are committed, people are drowned and terror reigns supreme. When you go see 'The Phantom of Opera' wear plenty of bandoline, or whatever it is that keeps hair from standing on end."
It is suprising to see, but Exhibitor's Trade Review ran sandwiched between its table of contents and its editorial pages an anomaly- a magazine advertisement disguised as an article, every look of the page having the appearance of a review written by the magazine and every word pointing to it having been written by Universal Studios. The clue on the bottom of the page reads, "Universal Is Filming A Photodrama Which is Confidently Expected to Equal the Famous Hunchback in Sensational Glamour." The advertisement introduces Mary Philbin as being cast in the film, "The film depicts many tense episodes and she has proven herself equal to the task of registering the entire gamut of human emotion before the camera." Looking through other issues of the magazine it would seem that this type of advertisement-review can now only be called a "Courtesy Advtertisement", and their might have been plenty of reason why the magazine would substitute a full page of its own due to editorial considerations and the lurid grotesque make up of Lon Chaney and still take it upon itself to promote the film to remain in a favorable light with its patrons, thereby maintaining the integrity of its look and feel with the artwork used within its pages.
Importantly, scholar Linda Williams, although taking the premise that with Phantom of the Opera, the horror film could be seen as a pre-established albeit mostly new genre, compares the "Woman's Look of Horror" to the male voyer subject to reiterate the relationship between the female spectator and the female protagonist and the desire of spectator for protagonist. Williams notes that during the Phantom of the Opera, Christine, the student of the Svengali-like Phantom, only sees his masked face after he has been shown to the audience; she is shown in a two-shot with the Phantom, coyly, demurely from behind him. Again, during the abrupt, unmasking scene, they are shown in two-shot and she is behind him as the mask is removed, the viewer therefore seeing the Phantom's real face before she- we are left with the desire to see the reaction of the female protagonist and we desire, as interpellated subject, to experience the emotion in the silent actresses' face.
In regard to genre, a recent article in the publication Film International referred to the films distributed by The Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company before "The Hunchback of Notre Dame, including a half dozen smaller companies under its umbrella netween 1911-1915, as being "horror themed" or "horror adjacent". Not incidentally, in regard to the audience expectations that comprise the criteria and requirements of a specific genre or sub-genre, which often involve the year thefilm was made, the Film International article offered actresses Jane Gail and Frances M. Nelson as the first "horror film sex symbols" or more properly, "scream queens". The author Ian Conrich sees the film later made in the United States by Universal Studios between 1923-1928 as being "horror-spectacular", full legnth films that, along with the films of Douglas Fairbanks, tried to near the lI'm arge-scale production standard of Griffith. Author William K Everson in fact, in his volume American Silent Film, writes that the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" shared "Dickensian plots and structures that would have delighted Griffith- parralel plots, class conflicts, dramatic personal stories set against turbulent historical backgrounds." Silent film pioneer D. W. Griffith had already by 1922 promised audiences entering the dark of the silver-nitrate screen's public sphere of reception One Exciting Night, a film purportedly built more for atmosphere and devices that would gradually become standard in mystery film than for plot twists and complications, its emphasis having been on trap doors that lead to hidden passageways known only to ghostlike persons. After starring in the film, Henry Hull was interviewed by Picture Play magazine and said, "But on the screen without my voice and without artificial disguise, what would I be. I wondered. 'But we don't photograph the face,' Mr Griffith assured me, 'we photograph the thought, the soul.'" Author Wiiliam K Everson, in his volume American Silent Film places the work within film history, "Its one value in 1922 was its novelty, If nothing else, its original story (by Griffith) introduced the old-dark-house thriller to the screen and elements in it clearly influenced such later silents (and indirectly, their sound remakes) as 'The Bat', 'The Cat and The Canary' and 'The Gorilla'."
Actrees Carol Dempster, who appears in the Griffith film was known to audiences as having been paired on screen with John Barrymore in the film Sherlock Holmes. While allowing that the film belonged to the genre of the detective story, author William K. Everson admonished that the "characters were removed from thier original context and placed in tales of adventure rather than deduction....They attempt to 'open up' the famous William Gillette play merely compounded the mistakes and the effective theatricality of the original work was lost without anything cinematic replacing it." Everson, whike pointing out that it was well suited for "genre exploitstion" immediately singles out the visual qualities of the horror film as being among the criteria of a film beloning to its genre.
By 1923 Silent Film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau had already made The Haunted Castle and Nosferatu, his continuing with Phantom and Driven from Home. The former cast Lil Dagover with Frieda Richard, and actress who filmed under the direction of several, in not numerous, silent filmmakers and appeared in Robert Dinesen's film Die Geschichte eines jugen madchens from 1924. Whether or not pertinent to every Nosferatu-Vampyr hollywood tale, if the idea of a precise, fully descriptive shootingscript intiated by silent film director Thomas Ince can be rediscovered from the photoplay, paricularly if it can be reconcieved passed any nouveau roman or nouvelle vague notion of film poetry only as an avaunt guarde act, it is interesting, without feeling that Griffith worked entirely without a script or that Ince wrote novels in the form of picture plays, that author Kenneth Macgowan associates Murnau with his camerman Karl Fruend and scriptwriter Carl Mayer in a way that makes theirs a reinterpretation of the ideas of keeping a shootingscript and of adding within it cameramovements that popularized the use of cameramobiltiy. "Mayer's scripts were detailed. They indicated every shot...In order to visualize action nad movements as he wrote, he used a camera viewfinder, a device that shows what ones shot will cover." From these script camera instructions Freund added subjectivity, reinterpreting the shootingscript with point of view. Still, it is certainly evident that by 1927, the horror film and art film would merge in eerie, atmospheric silent film essay on shadowplay and the black and white tones of mood and suspense, Paul Leni's The Cat and the Canary. To add to the mystery of silent film director Rubert Julian, the sound remake of the film The Cat and The Canary entitled The Cat Creeps (1930) is lost. Stills from the film show actress Helen Twelvetrees in the lead role. From a screenplay adapted from the novel by the Universal/Jewel script department, director Rupert Julian in 1925 would throw swirling silver shadows across the screen waiting untill Mary Philbin would remove the mask of the Phantom of the Opera. The Mystery of the Yellow Room, written by Gaston Leroux had been filmed earlier, in 1919, with Joseph von Sterberg as its assistant director, the film written and directed by Emile Chautard. Behind the mask and costumed in red during the tinted sequences, silent film actor Lon Chaney not only filmed on the famous Phantom of the Opera backlot, but he also appered in front of the camera at MGM, where he that year starred with Gertrude Olmsted in The Monster (Roland West, seven reels) and with Mae Busch in the silent film The Unholy Three (Tod Browning, seven reels). Mary Philbin later appeared in the 1928 silent Drums of Love (D. W. Griffith, nine reels) and in the 1929 silent The Last Performance (Paul Frejos, seven reels). Before becoming known to audiences as the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, Clive Brook would appear with Jetta Goudal.
After running advertisements for the film Phantom of the Opera, The Reel Journal, a sister publication to New England Film News, announced that the two would be paired together at DeMille studios under the direction of Rupert Julian during 1926 in the film Three Faces East, whereas Universal was to be filming The Radio Detective, "a mystery story by Arthur B. Reeve, as a chapter-play" Upon being invited to follow a story that began in Victorian-Edwardian London, 1925 Silent Film audiences were also that year thrilled by the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle as they were led by Challenger on an expedition into The Lost World through the magic lantern silent film. In 1925, Bela Lugosi had appeared on theater marquees starring in the film The Midnight Girl (Wilfred Noy, seven reels), with Lila Lee and Garreth Hughes. Lila Lee would appear under the direction of Scott Pembroke in the film The Black Pearl (1928,six years). Although two years earlier, he had appeared in the film Silent Command (J. Gordon Edwards, eight reels), it may be noted that Bela Lugosi appeared of the screen under the direction of F. W. Murnau while in front of the lens of Karl Fruend in the silent film Dr. Jeckell and Mr.Hyde/The Head of Janus (Der Januskopf, 1920), filmed in Germany.
Universal had entered the film Dark Stairways (Robert F. Hill) with the actress Ruth Dwyer into the filming of mystery in 1924. Photoplay in 1929 reviewed The Thirteenth Hour, an MGM entry, "Another mystery yarn with secret panels, trapdoors, underground passages and a series of other mysterious what-nots", only to later add Paramount's Something Always Happens, "It's dangerous business, girls, to pray to for something to "happen". You might get such a surprise as Esther Ralston gets when she finds herself in this haunted house of musty stains, sliding panels, walking chairs, ect." Not only is it uncertain from where magician Harry Houdini screened silent film in 1927, but the name of his director is shrouded in a cranking up of the kem light, he being listed as producer of his silent film. When he appearred in the the film The Grim Game (1919), serial "cliffhangers", adventure films much like the Danish melodramas and silent Sherlock Holmes, were still being made, the title of his being The Master of Mystery. He continued with the silent film Terror Island (1920), The Soul of Bronze (1921), The Man From Beyond (1922) and Halldane of the Secret Service (1923). Not only was there Houdini, the query Does Rudy Speak from Beyond- Natacha Rambova Talks of the Spirit Messages she claims to have recieved from Valentino appreared in Photoplay Magazine during 1927 from the pen of Fredrick James Smith.
Lon Chaney participated in the art form of silent film as well as establishing the genre of the American horror film, a genre which was still being sold to audiences during the silent era and one that still needed to fully originate in the consumership of the spectator and be rediscovered from the magician's trunk of George Melies. Several of Chaney's films that are not centered upon characters within horror melodrama include characterizations, despite the use of make up, that involve the classical narrative indicative to Photoplay as an art form, one often mentioned by Bordwell and Thompson.
During 1922 Lon Chaney was paired with actress Hope Hampton to appear in the film Light of Faith, originally titled The Light in the Dark. it's director was Clarence Brown who would soon thereafter become the originator of the "pull-back shot". After deigning the plot to be trite, it concerning a young, inexperienced woman falling in love with a millionaire, Film Daily magazine saw a remarkable opportunity for exhibitor's to exploit the film on the merit of its color tinted sequences symbolically woven into the plot. "The color work insistently demands attention. The story of the search for the Holy Grail from Tennyson's poem is done masterfully. Not only are the colors soft, without fringe, and unusually attractive...." The magazine praised the photography as "good-color process probably best ever shown in this country" while it pointed out the excellent climbing done as a screen thrill by either Chaney or s stunt double, it claiming it didn't know which, during an escape scene. "while you can use the name of the star to advantage and easily promise the best picture she has ever made, you can also promise your people the finest colored photography ever shown in this country....Get some stills of the colored reel and use them around the lobby. If they are in color, so much the better. They will be excellent as an attraction....Also use stills of the star. She looks very beautiful in one. The title hardly lends itself to catch lines, but you can talk about Faith being the Light in the Dark and perhaps work it in. Also, use the name of Lon Chaney."
"The Man of a Thousand Faces" had already been placed underneath the name of Lon Chaney by 1922. The reference to his make up kit, and his versitility at pantomine, was featured in studio advertisements for the film "The Trap" placed by the publicity department in Universal Weekly. The film was directed by Robert Thornby and photographed by Virgil Miller. Along with a synopses of the plot, Motion Picture News Booking guide provided a brief description of the film, "French-Canadian melodrama carrying primitive action and romance."
1922 saw two full page advertisements in Exibitor's Herald, seriously presented in typeface for the thoughtful investor for the film "Shadows" directed by Tom Forman and starring Lon Chaney, "Confidently proclaimed the greatest story told to motion pictures" I lent the advice that "Shadows wasadaptated as a title because it has mystery, meaning and merit as a box office aid. it has the advantage of being a one-word title and lends itself admirably to advertising and exploitation."
Silent Film: Lost Film, Found Magazines/br>Greta Garbo had been slated to film "The Ordeal" with Lon Chaney as his co-star under the direction of Marcel de Sarno; it is not a lost film of which there are no surviving copies, it was left unmade and is an unrealized film script, an abandoned photoplay. Lon Chaney is quoted as having said, "I told Garbo that mystery served me well and it would do as much for her." To complement this, there is a description of Lon Chaney, much like Greta Garbo, being a relative reculse. "He won't make personal appearances. He dresses so that he is never recognized onthe street- a cap and dark glasses aiding inthe disguise. He won't pose for pictures. Nor autograph them. And he won't answer fan mail." The quote is from Talking Screen magazine, the Spokesman of Talking Pictures, written by Murray Irwin toward the end of Chaney's life questioning Chaney's reluctance to appear in sound film. The article mentions Chaney's deteriorated health.
The advertisements published in advance by M.G.M during 1926 announced the film "The Ordeal" as an adaptation of a novel by Dale Collons, Motion Picture News having described the upcoming film as a "sea story" and having announced that Ray Doyld, formerly a newspaper reporter, was preparing the scenario. "Garbo in Support of Lon Chaney in 'The Ordeal' announced Greta Garbo as the "featured feminine player opposite Chaney. A similar report appeared in Moving Picture World that year. Film Daily during 1927 reported that John Griffith Wray had been signed to direct Lon Chaney in "The Ordeal", it neglecting to mention entirely Chaney having been previously signed to the film or Marcel deal Sarno having been dismissed as its director.
"Tower of Lies" in which Lon Chaney starred under the direction of Victor Sjostrom is in fact a lost film; there are no surviving copies of the film and the best way to find the content of the film is to search through magazine articles printed during it first run for reviews and synopses. The publicity department of M.G.M often, if not incessantly, centered its magazine advertisements around the attraction of the studios "stars", that is to say it claimed to have the greatest number of the most popular screen actors, the particular film a then afterthought- in The Film Daily during 1926 it directly addressed exhibitors, "Then take 'The Tower of Lies', Victor Sjostrom, director; Lon Chaney and Norma Shearer stars. It's an angle when exhibitors advertise this thrilling attraction as a 'successor to "He Who Gets Slapped" with the same director and stars.'."
During 1925, Lon Chaney, in an article entitled My Own Story and published by Movie Magazine, while pointing to the themes of "self-sacrifice and renunciation" in his films wrote, "The picture I have just completed, Tower of Lies, is the story of a father's enduring love and sacrificep, even to death, for his wayward daughter. I do not know that it is my favorite of all roles that I have portrayed, but certainly it is one of them and I consider Victor Seastrom, who directed it, the greatest director in the motion picture profession." Also in 1925, The Reel Journal, a sister publication to the magazine New England Film News, reviewed the films of Lon Chaney with the article "Lon Chaney Turns to Less Grotesque Roles". The article initially began by noting that, in regard to depiction of thematic character, "Lon Chaney, who has attracted stardom by playing roles of a weird and grotesque character, is turning to portrayals depending on more deeply human qualities for their interest.", the professionalism as a make-up artist on the part of Lon Chaney is not without having been noticed, "In his first Metro-Goldwyn Mayer picture, Victor Seastrom's production of Leonid Andreyev's He Who Gets Slapped...Chaney donned two make-ups, one as a European scientist, and the other as a clown. It was said by critics of the latter that this portrayal was the first circus clown interpretation to express the humanity which lies behind the painted mask of a mountebank...In The Tower of Lies, his make-up demonstrates a transition from middle age to old age." Both films The Tower of Lies and The Unholy Three were unreleased at the time of the review.
Although there accounts of Lon Chaney only having taken a small role in the film, "The Next Corner", directed by Sam Wood in 1924 is a lost film. The film, made by Paramount, stars Dorothy Mackaill and its length is seven reels. The Photoplay was written by Monte Katterjohn. The periodical Screen Opinions while providing a synopsis of the film listed it as a “Sex Appeal Drama Presented Artistically.” The period Exhibitor’s Herald during 1924 offered their review of the film, “One distinctive feature is the appearance of Lon Chaney without a make up, although the role offers some so little oppurtunity that one is inclined to wonder why such an expensive actor was picked for the part.”
It is not entirely suprising that Lon Chaney was cast with John Gilbert in their respective dramatic roles. John Gilbert would later star as a magician in a 1931 adaptation of a story written by Gaston Leroux for the film "The Phantom of Paris", which was apparently slated for Lon Chaney before his death. There are no existing copies of the film "While Paris Sleeps" in which Lon Chaneyand John Gilbert appeared on the screen together under the direction of Maurice Tourneur during 1923. The film was photographed by Tourner during 1920 under its original title "The Glory of Love".
There are no existing copies of the film "A Blind Bargain" starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace Worsley during 1922. It is an adaptation of the novel Octave of Claudius, written by Barry Bain. Appearing in the five reel film with Chaney is actress Jaqueline Logan. Exhibitor's Herlad remarked upon Chaney's performance in the film, "This tragic story by Barry Bain has a wealth of good acting by Lon Chaney in a dual role. Indeed it would be difficult to imagine any other actor...who could handle these two contrasting characterizations with one half the dramatic finesse that is Chaney's." Whereas both Tod Browning and Lon Chaney had previously centered on the morality of the crime drama to arrive at plot lines, they would soon begin to establish the genre of the silent horror film and its commodification- Motion Picture News Booking Guide introduced the Lon Chaney film "The Blind Bargain" as Mystery Melodrama. It added, "Star plays Dual role...A struggling author agree to allow doctor to experiment on him in return for financial and medical aid for his mother, who is dying...the author escapes the fate of other victims chained in the doctor's private dungeon when one of those men breaks the bars engaging him and crushes the doctor to death. Romance between author and publisher's daughter."
"Voices of The City", or "The Night Rose", starring Lon Chaney under the direction of Wallace Worsley, six reels released toward the end of 1921, is also a lost film of which there are no existing copies. The film, a heavily censored crime drama that was recut before its release, also starred actress Leatrice Joy. That year Chaney had also appeared in the six reel film "For Those We Love", a romantic melodrama directed by Arthur Rossen and starring Betty Compson. The actress had co-produced the film with Goldwyn Studios. The library of Congress has no listings of archived holdings of the film, it presumed to be lost and there being no surviving copies.
Director George Loane Tucker was responsible for the scenario of the eight reel film "The Miracle Man", of which only a three minute fragment now remains. Released in 1919, the film starred Lon Chaney with Betty Compson and Elinor Fair. Silent film proponent, author, perhaps icon, Anthony Slide, has casually mentioned that it was not untill the film "Miracle Man" that character actor Lon Chaney gained recognition as a film artist and the film may have catapulted him toward stardom- it may also be taken for granted that the majority of the earlier film made by Chaney before "The Miracle Man", not to mention several made after, are lost in their entirety, including numerous short films made between 1914-1915 and possibly a dozen feature films in which Chaney appeared between 1916-1917. The Man of a Thousand Faces before becoming a celebrity is now invisible on the screen as an aspiring star, the celluloid having been destroyed.
Although one of Chaney's best films, Laugh, Clown Laugh, directed by Herbert Brenon during 1928, is often screened to modern audiences, the Library of Congress lists the film as surviving only as incomplete and missing an entire reel. There exists no copy of the fourth reel of the film. Of the film, Photoplay expressed the emotion that "it is the greatest relief to have him minus his usual sinister make up...Loretta Young, as Simonetta, reveals an unexpected display of dramatic ability."
Although "The Gift Supreme" (Oliver Sellers, 1920) is not a lost film, only one of six reels presently exist.
Among the films to which there are no holdings listed by the library of Congress are two six reel films directed by Tod Browning during 1919, both starring Mary McClaren, both presumed to be lost and their present survival unknown, "Petal on the Current", based on a story by Fanny Hurst and "The Unpainted Woman", adapted from the work of Sinclair Lewis.
A projectionist found a surviving copy of the lost film "When Bearcat Went Dry" (Oliver L. Sellers, six reels, 1919), starring Lon Chaney and Vangie Valentine, donating it to the American Film Institue during 1996.
It's has been estimated that less than 10% of the early films of Lon Chaney Made for Universal still exist. Chaney had filmed with Universal Bison, Universal Nestor and Universal Rex during the second decade of the twentieth century. Of the lost films that Lon Chaney made during 1916, 1917 and 1918 for Universal Blue Bird and Universal Red Feather, several were made with the actress Dorothy Phillips or actress Louise Lovely and were directed by either Joseph de Grasse or Ida May Park. The films were a running length of five reels. One exceptions, a Western drama advertized as being "action-packed" can allow relief for those skeptical that the celluloid that is now missing can ever be screened again, let alone be restored in the condition it will be in when found. The five reel lost film "Pay Me" (Joseph de Grasse, 1917), in which Lon Chaney starred with Dorothy Phillips and Evelyn Selbie, was part of the Gosfilmofond discovery in Moscow in the form of an incomplete copy lasting twenty three minutes. Among the other films found in Russia was a copy of Oliver Twist starring Lon Chaney starred under the direction of Frank Lloyd. Russia has made several of these films available to the Library of Congress and, again, even with an incomplete copy, we can turn to the extratextural discourse of fan magazines of the period, Found Magazines, to piece together scenes from films that no longer exist, Lost Films.
<Lon Chaney was given the supporting role of Nils Krogstad was a screen adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll House" (1917) in which Joseph de Grasse directed actress Dorothy Phillips.
In regard to Lost Fim, Found Magazines, the idea that there is no existent copy of the film, but history can be studied by looking at the neglected magazine articles of one hundred years ago, some of the most beautiful magazine art of the Twenties belonged to the regular output of Bluebird Photoplays, a subsidiary of Universal Manufacturing Company- most of the films of Bluebird Photoplays made between 1916-1919 are unknown to survive. Although not strictly mystery or horror films, it being too early in the history of Universal Film to belong to a developed horror adventure genre, they include the work of three notable directors: Rupert Julian, Rex Ingram and Tod Browning. Also directing for Bluebird was Robert Z. Leonard, who married actress Mae Murray after directing her in "Princess Virtue" (1917). The film "Anything Once" in which Lon Chaney appeared under the direction of Joseph Grasse for Bluebird Photoplays Incorporated during 1917 is presumed to ne a lost film, with no surviving copies. Among the several films directed by Jospeh DeGrasse for Bluebird Photoplays Incorporated in which Lon Chaney appeared is "Vengence of the West", it presently unknown if there is a surving print of the film. "The Piper's Price" (1917) in which Joseph DeGrasse directed Lon Chaney with Dorothy Phillips is a film which presently is unknown to exist in an available print. The scenario of the film was written by Ida May Park. Only the first three reels of the five reel film "Triumph" (1917) in which DeGrasse directed Lon Chaney with Dorothy Phillips, currently exist. It is also unknown if "The Girl in the Checkered Coat" in which Lon Chaney appeared with Dorothy Phillips that year survives, there being no known existing print of the film. "The Flashlight Girl", written and directed by Ida May Park for Bluebird Photoplays Incorporated during 1917, in which Lon Chaney appeared with Dorothy Phillips, is presumed to be a lost film, with no surviving copies that exist.
Rupert Julian not only directed his own films, but like Victor Sjostrom in Sweden, appeared in front of the camera. One such film was "The Mysterious Mr. Tiller" in which the director starred with Ruth Clifford during 1917- the film is thought to be lost. Motion Picture Weekly reported that in the film Julian directed himself in a dual role, "He changes before the eye of the camera from a debonair gentleman of the world, in conventional evening dress, to a desperate, sinister criminal, one with distorted features and threatening leer in his eyes." The magazine saw the transformation as clever and the film as a mystery, mysteries then growing in popularity- the film was a "corker". It is unknown whether the 1916 five reel film "The Evil Women Do" in which the director starred with Elsie Jane Wislon and Francella Billington is presently lost. The Photoplay was based on a novel by Emile Gaboriau. Bluebird Photoplays also produced Rupert Julian's adaption of Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Naked Hearts" from 1916, in which the directed and starred with Francellia Billington. It is also unknown if there are still surviving copies of the film. Two five reel films in which actress Ruth Clifford was directed on screen by Rupert Julian for Bluebird Photoplays, the 1917 film "The Door Between" and the 1918 film "Hands Down (The Highest Card)" are both in fact presumed to be lost films.
Included among the myriad of films that cannot be viewed by modern audiences are The Chinese Parrot (1927, seven reels), adapted for the screen from the pen of Earl Der Biggers by Paul Leni and starring Marian Nixon and Florence Turner and Four Devils, filmed in the United States by F. W Murnau in 1928 and starring Janet Gaynor. Photoplay, while providing a still from the film, saw The Four Devils as the "long awaited successor" to Murnau's Sunrise and as a source of a plot summary to the film, it alludes to the film's tone, "the final shot implies a happy ending. The film will probably be cut to eliminate the over drawn scenes before it is released." Paul Rotha in The Film till now, a survey of the cinema opined, "Murnau's second picture for Fox was Four Devils, a story of the circus ring, which (save for some moving camera work) an uninteresting film." Laurence Reid of Motion Picture Classic magazine, The Celluloid Critic, reviewed the film in an article that read, "There are some highly graphic scenes- the outstanding being the expansive one of the trapeze act with the spectators seated Pin rows after the manner of the Roman Coliseum. there are suggestions of 'Variety' in this incident pertaining to the acrobatic work, though Murnau has used initiative in developing the story in his own dramatic way. So I highly recommend 'Four Devils', which is colorful, appealing and moving."
Silent film journals have noted that no matter how star struck audiences may have been, John Barrymore's film When a Man Loves was eclipsed and while thought to be a lost film, it was not screened between 1927 to 2000, but add to this that the film The Lotus Eater (Marshall Neilan, 1921), in which he appeared with Colleen Moore and Anna Q. Nilsson, was also during that entire time taken to be a lost film; one source listed as many as thirteen films in which John Barrymore starred that are believed to be missing. The five reel film "The Test of Honor", in which John Barrymore starred during 1919, is a lost film of which there are no surviving copies. It is a film adaptation of the novel The Malefactor, written by the prolific mystery-romance writer E. Philips Oppenheim. The present author having spent a summer having read twelve novels written by E. Phillips Oppenheim while collecting first editions at a used bookstore in Boston, my hardcover copy of The novel The Malefactor Was printed in 1907 by Collier.
If all that exists of The Chinese Parrot is a still photograph, the caption from Photoplay Magazine, cautioned that, alhtough mysteries were not meant to be divulged, the adaption had not kept faithful to the Earl Der Biggers plotline. In addition to "The Mountain Eagle", an early silent starring actress Nita Naldi directed by Alfred Hitchcock during 1926 being listed as lost with no surviving prints, there were several films which Hitchcock, before having become director, wrote the intertitles for as an apprentice in the screenplay department of Famous Players-Lasky British made between 1920-1922. All the films for the studio on which Hitchcock worked appear to now be non-existant.