The Penalty (film)

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The Penalty

Re-issue poster for The Penalty in the late 1920s by MGM. The Penalty was originally a sole Goldwyn production in 1920.
Directed byWallace Worsley
Produced bySamuel Goldwyn
Written byCharles Kenyon
Philip Lonergan
Gouverneur Morris
Claire Adams
StarringLon Chaney, Sr.
CinematographyDonovan Short
Editing byFrank E. Hull
Distributed byGoldwyn Pictures
Release date(s)August 1920
CountryUSA
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles
 
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The Penalty

Re-issue poster for The Penalty in the late 1920s by MGM. The Penalty was originally a sole Goldwyn production in 1920.
Directed byWallace Worsley
Produced bySamuel Goldwyn
Written byCharles Kenyon
Philip Lonergan
Gouverneur Morris
Claire Adams
StarringLon Chaney, Sr.
CinematographyDonovan Short
Editing byFrank E. Hull
Distributed byGoldwyn Pictures
Release date(s)August 1920
CountryUSA
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

The Penalty is an American crime film starring Lon Chaney and originally released in 1920. The movie was directed by Wallace Worsley, and written by Philip Lonergan and Charles Kenyon, based upon the pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris. The supporting cast includes Charles Clary, Doris Pawn, Jim Mason, and Claire Adams.[1]

Contents

Cast

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Plot

The film follows gangster Blizzard (Lon Chaney), whose legs were mistakenly amputated at a young age. Driven insane by the social pressures of being forced to walk on crutches, Blizzard becomes a crime lord. He tracks down the doctor who performed his operation, and plots a twisted revenge—kidnap the doctor's daughter's fiance (Clary), and graft his legs onto Blizzard's stumps.

Ethel Grey Terry and Lon Chaney in The Penalty

Production

The apparatus worn by Chaney to simulate amputated legs, which consisted primarily of two wooden buckets and multiple leather straps, was complex and incredibly painful. Chaney's knees sat in the buckets, while his lower legs were tied back. Studio doctors asked that Chaney not wear the device, but he insisted on doing so, so that his costume would be authentic.

To assure audiences that Chaney was not an amputee, the original release of the film reportedly included a short epilogue clip showing Chaney out of character. This clip does not survive in the existing prints.

Legacy

The Penalty was one of Chaney's breakout roles, showcasing his taste for the macabre and talent for contortion and disguise. He had previously demonstrated similar qualities in the previous year's The Miracle Man, but The Penalty and Treasure Island, both of 1920, secured Chaney's place as one of America's most famous character actors, before moving on to his more famous roles in 1923's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and 1925's The Phantom of the Opera.

In 2009 Empire Magazine named it #17 in a poll of the 20 Greatest Gangster Movies You've Never Seen* (*Probably).

References

External links