December 3rd, 2011: The Penalty (1920)

Cast and Crew:  Wallace Worsley (Director); Charles Kenyon (Scenario); Samuel Goldwyn (Producer)

What It’s About: Blizzard (Lon Chaney), the victim of an unneeded double leg amputation in childhood,  runs crime in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast neighborhood.  Can he be stopped before his schemes (which include helping the Reds plan and execute a revolt in the city) for revenge come to fruition?

Why Watch it Today?:  Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we already ran Crippled Avengers for the anniversary of the American Disabilities Act on July 26th and Zatoichi on the anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth.  Today’s film was one of Lon Chaney’s early successes, with his show stealing performance as Blizzard, a villain who wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Batman comic.  Although it is melodramatic, The Penalty is entertaining, pulpy fun.

Where to Get It:  Netflix (Rental);  Amazon or the Internet Archive or on Youtube:

No trailer, but here’s a scene from the film:

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