Based on a very lineal and simple plot, without complications and full of scientific proposals that verge on the unbelievable, this film conversely conceals a story of extreme violence and makes up avant la lettre some of the features that would define a very codified and much praised film genre in just a few short years: the American film noir. More famous, but perhaps much “darker”, than the two previous films screened in this series, The Penalty (1920) submerges the spectator in a dark and dense atmosphere in which violence, criminality and a lack of feelings become the subjects of a story that is balanced with a very suggestive collection of strange empathies and unimaginable love.
Fluently directed by an always undervalued Wallace Worsley, the film becomes an unusual cocktail of brilliant visual discoveries –which Fritz Lang would later use in his famous Metropolis (1927)– combined with the legend of the beauty and the beast. In short, a story of gangsters, crime and vengeance, seasoned with reflections on the most diabolical human feelings and over which a terrible metaphor hovers: the existence of the two sides (dark and kind) of the human soul. Lon Chaney –the man of a thousand faces– plays the evil Blizzard, in one of the roles he worked hardest to prepare in his prolific and successful acting career, although in this case his acting is not combined with complex make-up, but a physical defect he handles with an uncanning ability.