Once again proving a big distinction between best and personal favorite.
Ever since I first saw this film just a few years ago, it quickly became my favorite of Lon Chaney's films, despite Phantom being his most well known and yes I still consider it a great film, a film I love even, but this story just worked for me. It follows a scientist who is cheated and betrayed by his wealthy patron, and mocked openly at a seminar leading him to go a bit off the rails and takes up being a clown in a circus act, as we get to know a few of the side characters it all culminates in a revenge story which is probably why I love it so much. It still has the romance, and the tragic ending, but revenge while being a worthless cause can elevate storytelling and it works great here. Chaney gives another good performance but yet again I strongly stress his acting quality in The Unknown which was the highlight of the week, but the emotion in his eyes and more subtle moments of acting is really wonderful stuff. I don't know what it is, he just pulls off clown makeup better than anybody I've ever seen. Yeah, even more so than any Joker. In fact I did get ever so slight Joaquin Phoenix vibes from this, a down on his luck lower class guy gets snubbed by an upper class rich guy, goes a bit mental, puts on clown makeup, has someone close to him that he does love but is not reciprocated back, as a clown he becomes this celebrity with hundreds of admirers, and it ends with two people being murdered. Sounds a bit familiar in a way. The quality is quite good, and considering this was the very first film Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer started production on they did a good job, with good sets, huge amounts of extras, very good costumes, some pretty nifty cross dissolve's which was ambitious for that time and they do work quite well, it's a solid movie. It's not often I touch on films that are nearly a century old, but it really does go to show how much things change they stay the same. The world keeps turning, films are still being made, and here I stand amongst billions with such a passion for one of many artful mediums. 4 stars, 8/10, I'll see you next week everyone.
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