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Lon Chaney's WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS


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*LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT* is not the only Chaney MGM feature of note that is lost. There is also *TOWER OF LIES (1925)* with Norma Shearer, and *THE BIG CITY (1928).* Neither of which were even mentioned in the 2000 Documentary. Plus much of *ROAD TO MANDALAY(1926),* and most of his final Silent *THUNDER* with Phyllis Haver. At Universal there is *A BLIND BARGAIN (1923).* Sort of a Modern times updated take on Faust. Any of these would be significant discoveries.

 

New discoveries are always being made. Just last week the original camera Negatives all five reels to Mabel Normand's final Silent feature *RAGGEDY ROSE (1926)* were found.

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> New discoveries are always being made. Just last week the original camera Negatives all five reels to Mabel Normand's final Silent feature RAGGEDY ROSE (1926) were found.

 

Which is even more reason not to use lost films as fodder for April Fool's jokes!

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I have to say that The Unknown is probably my favourite Chaney film and performance. Oh, I know it's a pretty sicko bizarre one, too, but the scene (SPOILER ALERT!!!) in which his character discovers that he had his arms amputated for nothing because the woman he desired, who previously had a horror of being touched, has now lost that fear of a man's arms, has a moment of acting from Chaney which remains seared in my memory. Burt Lancaster called the same scene one of the most emotionally compelling sequences ever recorded by an actor.

 

You can't help but ache for Chaney in that stunning moment when he sees that Joan Crawford now had a new boyfriend, who has his arms wrapped around her. Chaney is in medium shot. It's all in his facial reaction to the news, with only a few cutaway shots to Crawford and the boyfriend. Chaney looks like he's starting to laugh, but the laughter turns hysterical, as it then becomes mixed with tears that he tries in vain to suppress.

 

The cruellest trick of fate has just been played on him, and he is both laughing and crying at the same time. The incredible gut wrenching anguish that explodes from this actor in this scene makes this film virtually impossible to forget. It is profoundly disturbing, in the same manner that the same director (Todd Browning) would make Freaks an unsettling film experience for so many just a few years later.

 

And can you just image if Chaney had had the opportunity (rather than the midget Harry Earles) to have played a love smitten circus freak toyed with by Olga Baclaova in that film instead?

 

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gEsDfOkH1fsllt4hwSE344wYnjyrZO5MKGVkZLRzRm2ki6Xy/wD4e8aGHxlJM4MiydNejuirEO5bbVFAunyJGFzXwwOIE8uyXZcZltvdwtY42WtbZP1KNzRIJLbXsgXTOB5XMIKCElo0oBrenRC48hiBld8TzoonI8Do78Tj4vQLO9pO00GBG6DGcH5VVQOkf6B9xTIweLOHC5nOd3XjIa6tf8Aa1n8/s/w6FtsjefeQrK8G4zPj5jsgO53n4ub9V7rYniUPEMXvIrB6tPQoE8WBhxPPLA2/XVEANa2qHsF7Q5jfkNF4epQDOoyUdlbzN6WqZPEhpramCKGlIIzEcuyHD61REtFnkg7tBNkh59E3hW31CSs1fY00TqGu6b7IIvHXZL80jlcj5Tol2Z8JQfPZfmP9yoqUnzHe5UUHJ/2dJED6/wAf2SBaLs1X4eS/8f2QaKE023CkxxXWAASEuhI0BCYxFrG2EFuS7kaRuSp4LdOYjVDZbiQNETw8EAoDn/D60l0ZPfelpgTp9ErabmNDYoHWOC5oRsbSR5CkDhnmbZNABJOO8ce1xgx300aFw6oNJNn42OQ188Yd5WisHNgPD83LYedkbOW/Ur5JLkSSy8znk2epWy4dnd12agwDG5jsl5ldIfhLAf9kEe1D3Q8Pw4jY549d6kqnstGYseWSFrJJBH3rGuFhxBPM3WqYdoY4IcCxp8ZwkdC3lkIPwi/JJeymZPicQjjiLS17w0tcNBeloDZ8uTjUUuPPJ3ZijcFjGE1rROyQ8JxopsqISua2N7zzucapg1KecbEXDpc/HikDHSkcrm62zWwPcpNDw7IEOPlvjYYXnmAc6tAUC3jUzIuLySYoLIa468uik9ju20GdjMxMQRZQFNc402T6a+Z9oAO/Z4S3lBBBG2p/1SyN7m7FB97y8mYm2sYW9CHhK8rKLAXSuYyvVfKYOPcSx2ckWZM1o2HNYVOTxXLyie/yJH7kGo492mDOeDCfbj8T/JYSV0hJc4knclVOJdquQWRyujdbTSJg4hPE62SEfVBVakAg0uBx5sjwzKAF6c46cucA13LRsaEbFYNujk24ZxGSAljjzsPQ7BBomNJF1qpVYpu43Q8GfjyVfgKKa5rtWEEVugqfGSzXogDvSNyZKYQNfJLnPr3QWsI59U7iI7poPks4x/jT2F35TdOiCUhFbJbmmmlHPd4bAS7NPhd7IMHJ8x3uVFSkN3uVFByecBNQP0/X9kjTvgXyH/wAf2QaWCYU2xsmcD43MBKRxGiAjIT4epQHZr28gIqr0VBJYASmaUucG66apjhGmjRAze4gaSUtf8AnOJPVGPkJbulLpAwuJJoaoDs3iBgxixh1dv6BZbJeXkuJu1Zk5LpXkknU7eiHldZpBXR5gAeq1LseeHDxXNDnh0DQ01dDc/3WWiJMgrzX0VvD8eLgeLnsypoZ/w9t5XDxHypBm8WZ7YsuPmID4qcPPUI7gOM1jcufRoZHo49CT/dGNbmZWE7KcIpAAA4OhAJFYTOZNw2GDCEkUhyw3vPCPyx5geyDM478dX/1Ac6gWhwF2fQJvL2fz8wR96/8PExtMYReg1QOVxIx8QiZHiQw47WF8THjVwJoOPqrpIcTdGTjB8MNU57fFQPW0Cftti9JM4sLJGzBjhe4LdD/MFYwL6V2lwZxjcQZlZAlP4ZkkXswj7Er5yG2T7oIclrwtrorVcW6IKKXopc5uq82QSXA0vLXA2UEgddEREQOiqY1WD3QENeRsdERBmSwODmOiCDtl6SgdnJGQ1rtvMKiR2xQWNNygtOyKc4adUHsZuRPYXjkF7gJBE7xprEmjUoCHyEjSqS7NdbHV5IlzzSBy3WDugxr/jd7lRUpPjd7lRQcnnADywPPf7JGnXBHhuPJfL7IHjJAT4kXA9pCWRuB1tEwHXQ6oLXnlns7HzTHFeOXdJsma3NF9FfjT1QtA2ll8NJBxHI5W8rdymTpd3A7BZvMm55nOvQIJMfcg8gvS74jSHid1VtjkNoIxScsij9lZos7grsQY7ZMhttMkh8LGHr6dV8w5qeU7Pccm4dIjjNNnj5HfZBqP29y8KfGx4e9dz8jXnVjb8vNV8G4fUpzIu8YYZS12wb0/n5JOx88ubiRZgDIBcndjegNyrOJZOTLAecvDZSAAdAWjZAt4jxI53G5JiKFcoHoERjZE4e5uO8sLmOB9RWoWfx5uXO5yLBJtaPBixjkQubmtaHaEEEEabIPeOscPEl/GmaSWDWj8IqqWWqnUtHxKHHj4ZBkMkBkstLebXQ72qzVI6C1cVDovbQeP8ANUlWnZQACCO6mxvopABSCDgdVMHS1DqVJB16r3mUSvLQWNdqi45LZvqNEvB1V0b6NeaAyOTxFMmP8ASdjtSmETvCEBRfbd9UJkO8JUnSaIWeTQoMy/43e5UVJ/xu91FByZ8MQ7L7LlyBlD9kVHuuXIKZfiCthXLkBJUfZIJ/iPuuXIOZ0VgArlyAY/EVdj/GPZcuQaHD/e2f/md/ZG9pv/huHf8AjP8AdcuQYtnzh7pvi/Nb7hcuQQzv3Ye7v7hKQuXIJD7Lv1BcuQeHZc1cuQe/oUmrlyDz9X1U1y5BHoF47dcuQefqVjPiC5cgtZuUfH8AXLkHj0NOuXIM/4j7rxcuQf/2Q==!

 

The Unknown: An impossible scene to forget

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Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

I have worked in film preservation for years and I often feel as if I'm a lone voice on a street corner yelling, "Hey, watch this!" when no one cares.

 

I did the color restoration for Buster Keaton's Seven Chances. I did a restoration of the first sound serial, King of the Kongo (1929). I have commentary and film on several DVD releases, and, yes, I did a pilot for a pro-film restoration TV show, Dr. Film.

 

And still no one cares. I struggle to keep afloat financially because no one cares about the work I consider so important.

 

The Dr. Film site has a readership of perhaps 100 people, and if anyone had bothered to read its contents, it's been a running commentary about how I can't get anyone, TCM included, interested in the show.

 

When I posted this April Fools' joke, I naturally assumed that this would not get any further than the small core of people who generally look at the site. Indeed, no other post ever has. I frankly thought it was silly and rather transparent, but apparently some people thought it was serious.

 

As for a cynical marketing trick to market the show? Sorry. Mr. Tabesh has received a copy of the pilot and a slick-paper campaign for it, and there was no response. Part of what made the post funny was that we already know that Dr. Film has been passed over by TCM. The site has been up since 2009 with only a very slow growth in readership, mostly due to the continuing blogs. If I'd been wanting to do a cynical marketing trick to market the show, I should have tried this several years ago.

 

I did not post this on any TCM site, nor did I expect it to be posted on any TCM site.

 

Even though I do not take myself seriously, I do take film preservation very seriously. It is always my goal to be very inclusive for that small group of people who will still watch a movie made before Star Wars.

 

I regret the fragmentation and distress this has caused. I did not intend for that to occur. You have my most sincere apologies. It frankly saddens me that I get noticed for a goofy joke instead of the real work I do. I often spend days or weeks restoring a particular film and then play it for an audience of four people.

 

I am glad that this has brought some attention to the work of Mr. Chaney and Mr. Browning. These people deserve to be remembered and their works preserved.

 

Thank you,

Eric Grayson

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I am both amused and appalled at the abuse Eric Grayson is taking on this thread. How anybody can have been fooled into taking his APRIL FOOL'S DAY blog post seriously is beyond me; nobody here would have even noticed it if someone (not Grayson) hadn't posted it here. To suggest it was some sort of self-aggrandizing effort to draw blog traffic is absurd; by his own admission Eric's blog has a small but devoted readership of old film fans who all got the screamingly obvious (and utterly harmless) joke.

I myself was small part of a London After Midnight internet hoax many years ago (http://www.michaelgebert.com/lam/lam1.html); it's one of the oldest internet memes. Anyone who doesn't think an actual anouncement of the film's discovery wouldn't be a major news item covered by big media is a fool; anyone who takes umbrage at obvious jokes about it is a bigger fool.

 

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So I'm guessing that you guys missed this from last year's April Fool's Day...

 

598351fb9a015d74e4f36d793529357c4709c4e_

 

There's a similar photo on Facebook featuring Laurel & Hardy's HATS OFF (1927), posted on April 1st.

 

Or this old prank by Lon Chaney biographer Michael Blake...

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!searchin/alt.movies.silent/AprilFoolsBlindBargain/alt.movies.silent/_-Mn_RKQD_s/kkeF4jUYnHcJ

 

 

 

Bruce Calvert

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