Shock, The

227. THE SHOCK (1923-USA). With LON CHANEY, VIRGINIA VALLI. Produced by CARL LAEMMLE. Directed by LAMBERT HILLYER. ‘Delving into the ever-dimming records of yesterday, a lurid page arrests the eye. Chinatown- street of crime-of fear-of hate of mystery.” In this shadowy “whirlpool of vice and intrigue,Ó Wilse Oilling (Lon Chaney). a crippled gunman, loyally carries out the orders of “Queen Anne,” the malevolent woman who oversees the Oriental Quarter from her House of Mystery. She sends him to a small town to destroy a prominent banker, whose testiÂmony had put her in prison. But after a short time, Wilse is spiritually transformed, partly because of the town’s peaceful, bucolic atmosphere-its sunlit skies, open air, trees and Cowers providing a sharp contrast to the gloomy, oppressive city-and partly under the influence of the banker’s angelic daughter, who preaches, “Anything you wish can be accomÂplished if the thought is right and the will is behind it.” Now reformed, Wilse dynamites the bank in order to destroy records that would implicate the banker as an embezzler. But the daughter is accidentally trapped in the explosion, and ironically, becomes crippled. The cruel Queen Anne sets out to avenge herself on Wilse and ruin the banker and family forever. The story’s sentimental, contrived turn of events which asks us to believe that noble thoughts and strong wills can cure cripples and even cause 3 providential earthquake- does not diminish its haunting power (and the earthquake is staged via impressively spectacular effects). Despite its title, and the fact that Wilse is a cripple (far be it for Chaney to play a completely normal character), this is decidedly not a horror movie, but a remarkable story of good versus evil, as well as a sensitive portrait of a man’s journey toward salvation. And Chaney, instead of relying on grotesque disguises, convinces us by unadulterated, brilliant acting-using his own face (perhaps the most expressive of his own face to comÂmunicate deeply felt anguish and the redemptive powers of love. This is a film that conveys an extraordinary range of drama and emotion. Chaney is at his finest, a consummate, awesomely versatile artist. Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 95 minutes. ÒSilentÓ Drama