in about 100 words or less
US 90m, B&W, Silent
Director: Wallace Worsley; Cast: Lon Chaney, Charles Clary, James Mason, Milton Ross, Ethel Grey Terry, Kenneth Harlan, Claire Adams, Doris Pawn
The Penalty is a crime film melodrama about a ruthless legless mob boss who runs the Barbary Coast. Befriending the daughter of the doctor who unnecessarily amputated his legs when he was a child, Blizzard (Chaney) plots his revenge while attempting a city-wide plunder of San Francisco. In playing the criminal amputee, Chaney famously bound his legs and walked on his knees with surprisingly realistic results. Though overshadowed by The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and Phantom of the Opera (1925), Chaney’s critically-acclaimed performance in The Penalty is one of his best (Klaus Ming March 2017).