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Sunday, September 30, 2012

London After Midnight (1927) - Tod Browning


London After Midnight is considered to be Lon Chaney's lost masterpiece. This film can be viewed in some sort of entirety on the internet or at the bottom of this write-up. 

This movie has Lon Chaney doing what he was born to do. Putting on layers and layers of his own make-up and putting on one hell of a performance. It doesn't hurt that the story was created by Tod Browning, written by Tod Browning, and directed by Tod Browning. It is so sad that I am never actually going to see the movie. 
The plot of the film, as I can surmise it, begins with a murder investigation. It appears that Sir Roger Balfour has been shot to death. The characters are interviewed and subsequently it is determined that Balfour had committed suicide. Five years pass and the Balfour residence is eventually taken up by ghoulish residents. This naturally leaves one question on everybody's mind. Did this ugly guy and creepy girl, kill Balfour? Natrually. 


My assumption, based on the promotional stills, is that this film would have been a treasure to see. It could have been one of the best of the twenties. However, like so many of its peers, it went up in flames in a studio vault fire. This one happened to be a really nasty vault fire that resulted in a big hunk of classic cinema to go up in smoke, as it were. This movie appeared to have that Norman Rockwell-ish quality that most Tod Browning movies have. He chooses his actors so well. They can really drive the story along and make it very interesting. Tod Browning would go on from this movie to make some cinematic history. I think he actually became blacklisted at one point, either Browning or Whale... one or the other.

Young man, I'll take one of your cigars... and have a little talk with you
  • Lon Chaney is always putting his art first, in this movie he wore prosthetic teeth that were so uncomfortable he could only wear them in short periods. 

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