|The Big City|
|Directed by||Tod Browning|
|Written by|| Waldemar Young (screenplay)|
Tod Browning (story)
Joseph Farnham (titles)
|Produced by||Irving G. Thalberg|
|Starring|| Lon Chaney |
|Edited by||Harry Reynolds|
|70 minutes (7 reels)|
|Language||Silent with English intertitles|
The Big City is a 1928 American silent crime film directed by Tod Browning  and starring Lon Chaney. Waldemar Young wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Tod Browning. The film is now lost. 
The last known print of the film had been sent to Australia in the late 1950s. The film was returned to MGM and placed in their vaults where it was destroyed in the same vault fire that also claimed London After Midnight and The Tower of Lies in 1965.  A short trailer for the film survives at Cinémathèque française in France, but it does not include any actual footage from the film itself.  Stills exist showing Chaney in the Chuck Collins role.   This was Betty Compson's only film at MGM.
The sets were designed by Cedric Gibbons. The set for Chuck Collins' nightclub was also used for the nightclub scenes in While the City Sleeps. Clinton Lyle, who plays a gangster in The Big City, was one of Chaney's closest personal friends.
The film was in production from October 27, 1927 to November 19, 1927, and cost $172,000 to produce. The worldwide box office gross was $833,000. Fearing the censors might have a problem with the film's criminal characters, Thalberg requested an extra 90-minute alternate ending be filmed which would have showed that Chuck reformed in the finale, but the footage was never used and no longer exists.
The film's tagline was "Lon Chaney gives his most effective performance now as the underworld leader in this throbbing film production. A sputter of bullets in the dark...a battle of crook against crook...and the flowering of a beautiful romance in this amazing setting."
Chuck Collins (Lon Chaney) is a gangster who owns the Black Bottom Nightclub, and his girlfriend Helen (Marceline Day) runs the dress shop that the Collins gang uses as a front. Collins gets word that a rival gangster named Red Watson (Matthew Betz) is planning to rob Collin's patrons of their jewelry, so he decides to beat Red to the punch by stealing the jewels from Red's accomplices after they pull the job.
Collins has Helen hide the loot in her dress shop, where her naive employee "Sunshine" (Betty Compson) almost exposes the jewels to some investigating policemen in her ignorance. Red is convinced that Collins has the jewels in his possession and goes to the club to force him to turn over the loot to him. The police raid the place, but Chuck and his sidekick Curly (James Murray) escape and hide out in Helen's apartment. While he's staying there under cover, Collins falls in love with Sunshine and starts thinking about going straight and turning the jewels over to the cops.
A jealous Helen tips off Red Watson, who manages to steal back the jewels from Collins. Collins finally winds up stealing back the jewels yet again, and this time he turns them over to the police, hoping that Sunshine will see him now as a good person. But Collins learns that Sunshine and Curly are engaged to be married, so he conceals his disappointment and wishes the happy couple his best. At the end of the film, Collins winds up proposing marriage to Helen, who eagerly accepts his offer.
Critics loved Chaney's tough portrayal of the soft-hearted gangster, and this acclaim probably led to his being cast as a detective in WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS, filmed later that year. 
"Not much better than a light-weight underworld picture for a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer program release, but with the possible novelty of showing Lon Chaney playing a human being in modern dress...Chaney as Chuck Collins, one of the crook leaders, is a consummate actor, in this as well as in character otherwise." ---Variety
"Mr. Chaney has considered carefully what Collins ought to wear. This crook has a penchant for stripes, both in his suits and his neckties. Mr. Chaney's performance is excellent, but, through no fault of his, the latter episodes are hardly convincing." ---The New York Times
"It is even more pleasant, perhaps, to see the gifted Mr. Chaney as the gifted Mr. Chaney and not as a dinosaur, a pygmy or the survivor of several major operations...I seize this opportunity to repeat my former plea [from a review of TELL IT TO THE MARINES] to Mr. Chaney to leave the trick makeup, henceforth, to those lesser actors who need something of the sort to get them by. Mr. Chaney quite emphatically does not." ---Exhibitors Herald 
"Lon Chaney's personality makes the picture look better than it is." ----Film Daily
"The Chaney-Browning team has made an altogether showmanly job of this melodrama adventure in photoplay." ---Motion Picture News
"Lon Chaney is a crook of no mean ability in this story....Lon wears his God-given face in this picture. The story is complicated but has good action."---Photoplay
"Intelligent people will laugh at it; picture-goers of the rank and file may get some enjoyment out of it...At least it is not of the gruesome sort, as the last three or four Chaney pictures have been. It is a crook melodrama in which suspense is supposed to predominate. Mr. Chaney is made to look ridiculous however by being made to reform...." ---Harrison's Reports 
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Leonidas Frank "Lon" Chaney was an American actor and makeup artist. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup. Chaney was known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques that he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces".
The Shock is a 1923 American silent drama film directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Lon Chaney as a disabled man named Wilse Dilling. The film was written by Arthur Statter and Charles Kenyon, based on a magazine story by William Dudley Pelley. This is one of the rare Lon Chaney films where he gets the girl. The film is readily available on DVD.
The Monster is a 1925 American silent horror comedy film directed by Roland West, based on the stage play of the same name by Crane Wilbur, and starring Lon Chaney and comedian Johnny Arthur. The screenplay was written by Willard Mack and Albert Kenyon. It is remembered as an early prototype "old dark house" movie, as well as a precedent to a number of horror film subgenres such as mad scientists with imbecilic assistants, among others. A great shot of the mad doctor and his monstrous cronies can be seen on the Internet. Some sources list the film's release date as March 1925 while others say February.
The Miracle Man is a 1919 American silent drama film starring Lon Chaney and based on a 1914 play by George M. Cohan, which in turn is based on the novel of the same title by Frank L. Packard. The film was released by Paramount Pictures, directed, produced, and written by George Loane Tucker, and also stars Thomas Meighan and Betty Compson. The film made overnight successes of the three stars, most notably putting Chaney on the map as a character actor.
A Blind Bargain is a 1922 American silent horror film starring Lon Chaney and Raymond McKee, released through Goldwyn Pictures. The film was directed by Wallace Worsley and is based on Barry Pain's 1897 novel The Octave of Claudius. Lon Chaney played a dual role in the film, as both Dr. Lamb and "the Ape Man", one of Chaney's few "true horror films". The claim that Wallace Beery appeared as an ape-man uncredited has never been proven, but does persist in many sources.
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While the City Sleeps is a 1928 American silent crime drama film about a tough New York City police detective, played by Lon Chaney, out to catch a murdering gangster. The film was directed by Jack Conway, written by Andrew Percival Younger, and co-starred Anita Page, Carroll Nye, Wheeler Oakman, and Mae Busch.
The Wicked Darling is a 1919 American silent crime film directed by Tod Browning, and starring Priscilla Dean, Wellington A. Playter and Lon Chaney as pickpocket "Stoop" Connors. This was the first time Lon Chaney appeared in a Tod Browning film, and many other collaborations between the two men would follow.
Outside the Law is a 1920 American pre-Code crime film produced, directed and co-written by Tod Browning and starring Priscilla Dean, Lon Chaney and Wheeler Oakman.
The Blackbird is a 1926 American silent crime film directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney. The screenplay was written by Waldemar Young, based on a story "The Mockingbird" by Tod Browning. Cedric Gibbons and Arnold Gillespie handled the set design. Makeup man Cecil Holland also played one of the old men living at the mission. Character actors Eddie Sturgis and Willie Fung appeared in several other Lon Chaney movies during this time period. The film took 31 days to shoot at a cost of $166,000. The tagline was "Lon Chaney in his successor to The Unholy Three". Stills on the internet shows Chaney in his dual role. In April 2012, the film became available on DVD from the Warner Archive collection.
The Road to Mandalay is a 1926 American silent drama film directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney, Owen Moore, and Lois Moran. It was written by Elliott Clawson, based on a story idea by Tod Browning and Herman Mankiewicz. The script's original shooting title was Singapore. The film took 28 days to complete at a cost of $209,000. The worldwide box office gross was $724,000. Some stills exist showing Chaney's makeup as Singapore Joe.
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The Stool Pigeon is a 1915 American crime film directed by Lon Chaney and starring J. Warren Kerrigan, Vera Sisson and George Periolat. Chaney did not appear in the film himself. The film is considered to be lost.
Dolly's Scoop is a 1916 American silent drama film directed by Joe De Grasse and featuring Lon Chaney. It was written by Ida May Park, based on a story by Hugh Weir. This was one of the few silent films that subtitled the actors' dialogue at the bottom of the screen, instead of using title cards. Also, this was one of the only Lon Chaney films in which Chaney wound up getting the girl at the end of the picture. A still exists showing Lon Chaney in the role of the reporter, Dan Fisher.
The Rescue is a 1917 American silent drama film written and directed by Ida May Park and starring Lon Chaney, William Stowell and Dorothy Phillips. The screenplay was based on a story by Hugh McNair Kahler. The film is today considered lost. A photo exists showing Lon Chaney in his role as Thomas Holland, a rare occasion when Chaney did not play a villain.
Pay Me! is a 1917 American silent drama film directed by Joe De Grasse and starring Lon Chaney, Dorothy Phillips and William Stowell. In the United States, the film is also known as The Vengeance of the West. The screenplay was written by Bess Meredith, based on a story by Joe De Grasse. This film was Universal Pictures' first "Jewel Production" release. Once considered to be a lost film, an incomplete (23-minute) print was rediscovered in the Gosfilmofond archive in Russia in 2019. A still exists showing Lon Chaney in the role of the villainous Joe Lawson.
Triumph is a 1917 American silent drama film directed by Joe De Grasse, written by Fred Myton, starring Lon Chaney and Dorothy Phillips. The screenplay was adapted from a short story by Samuel Hopkins Adams. It was produced by Bluebird Photoplays and released by Universal Film Manufacturing Company. Only the first three of the five reels of this film survive, and the third reel is heavily decomposed. Two stills exist showing Lon Chaney as the terminally ill Paul Neihoff.
Voices of the City is a 1921 American silent crime drama film starring Leatrice Joy and Lon Chaney that was directed by Wallace Worsley, based on the Leroy Scott novel The Night Rose. The film took more than 9 months to be released due to a controversy over the proposed title and the film's abundance of gunplay. The film was retitled Voices of the City and was only released in December 1921, although it had been completed in early March. The film is still listed under The Night Rose in some reference sources.
For Those We Love is a 1921 American silent romantic drama film produced by and starring Betty Compson, and featuring Lon Chaney and Richard Rosson. Written and directed by Arthur Rosson, the film was based on a story by Perley Poore Sheehan (who later co-wrote the script for Chaney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film was distributed by Goldwyn Pictures. Some sources list the release date as being in March 1921. This is unlikely since the film was only copyrighted in July, but the exact release date has not been confirmed. It is now considered a lost film. A still exists showing Chaney holding the heroine.