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Friday, November 18, 2016

The Monster (1925)

Starring Lon Chaney, Gertrude Olmstead, Hallam Cooley, Johnny Arthur, Charles A. Sellon
Directed by Roland West
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An amateur detective trails the disappearance of a wealthy farmer to a supposedly closed sanitarium, but it's been taken over by a mad doctor.

We have here a comic mystery enhanced by some dark and eerie scenes and the presence of Chaney as the villain, who plays his part with wide eyes and a creepy grimace, but it's not one of his more memorable characterizations.  Arthur is the familiar hero, seemingly patterned after Buster Keaton's character in Sherlock Jr., a somewhat meek and ridiculed clerk who wins a diploma from a correspondence detective school and continually consults a crime solving book.  Arthur is no Keaton, and his routines aren't all that amusing, but the film really takes off once we make to the sanitarium where West introduces us to Chaney and his sinister henchmen, and the secret passages and torture devices within, leading to a number of memorable suspenseful scenes.  I enjoyed the picture, but Chaney has had much better showcases.  

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