Thunder (film)

Last updated
Thunder
Thunder film.jpg
Directed by William Nigh
Produced by Hunt Stromberg
Written byAnn Price (scenario)
Joseph W. Farnham (intertitles)
Screenplay byByron Morgan
Story byByron Morgan
Starring Lon Chaney
Phyllis Haver
James Murray
Tom Keene
Frances Morris
Wally Albright
CinematographyHenry Sharp
Edited byBen Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 8, 1929 (1929-07-08)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent
English intertitles
Box office$1,018,000 [1]

Thunder is a 1929 American silent melodrama film starring Lon Chaney and directed by William Nigh. The film has no audible dialogue but featured a synchronized musical score and sound effects. [2] Thunder was Chaney's penultimate film appearance and his last silent film. [3]

The following is an overview of 1929 in film, including significant events, a list of films released and notable births and deaths.

Silent film Film with no synchronized recorded dialogue

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound. In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system.

Melodrama Dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions

A melodrama is a dramatic work wherein the plot, which is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to the emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Melodramas typically concentrate on dialogue, which is often bombastic or excessively sentimental, rather than action. Characters are often simply drawn and may appear stereotyped. Melodramas are typically set in the private sphere of the home, and focus on morality and family issues, love, and marriage, often with challenges from an outside source, such as a "temptress", or an aristocratic villain. A melodrama on stage, film or television is usually accompanied by dramatic and suggestive music that offers cues to the audience of the drama being presented.

Contents

The majority of Thunder is now considered lost, with only a half a reel of the entire footage known to survive. [4]

Lost film Feature or short film that is no longer known to exist

A lost film is a feature or short film that is no longer known to exist in any studio archives, private collections, or public archives, such as the U.S. Library of Congress.

Plot

Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. By the story's end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.

Railroad engineer person who operates a train on a railroad or railway

An engineer, engine driver, loco pilot, motorman, train driver, is a person who drives a train. The driver is in charge of, and responsible for driving the engine, as well as the mechanical operation of the train, train speed, and all train handling.

Cast

Phyllis Haver American actress

Phyllis Maude Haver was an American actress of the silent film era.

James Murray (American actor) American movie actor

James T. Murray was an American film actor best known for starring in the 1928 film The Crowd.

Frances Morris (actress) American actress

Frances Morris was an American actress.

Production notes

Still from a 9.5mm home movie made by Wencel Brezinski in March 1929 on the set of "Thunder" in Northeastern Wisconsin Lon Chaney - behind the scenes home movie by Wencel Brezinski - 1929.jpg
Still from a 9.5mm home movie made by Wencel Brezinski in March 1929 on the set of "Thunder" in Northeastern Wisconsin

The film was shot on location in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Pulaski, Wisconsin, Green Valley, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois. [5] It was there that Chaney caught a cold during the snow scenes which then developed into walking pneumonia. Production was shut down for a time but was eventually completed. [6] Chaney's illness combined with his throat cancer led to his death two months after the release of his last film, and only talkie, 1930's The Unholy Three . [7]

Manitowoc, Wisconsin City in Wisconsin, United States

Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2010 census, Manitowoc had a population of 33,736, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities. The city's sister city is Kamogawa, Japan.

Green Bay, Wisconsin City in Wisconsin, United States

Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It is 581 feet (177 m) above sea level and 112 miles (180 km) north of Milwaukee. The population was 104,057 at the 2010 census. Green Bay is the third-largest city in the state of Wisconsin, after Milwaukee and Madison, and the third-largest city on Lake Michigan's west shore, after Chicago and Milwaukee. Green Bay is home to the National Football League's Green Bay Packers.

Pulaski, Wisconsin Village in Wisconsin, United States

Pulaski is a village in Brown, Oconto, and Shawano counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 3,539 at the 2010 census. Of this, 3,321 were in Brown County, 218 in Shawano County, and none in Oconto County.

Reception

Thunder was released to theaters on July 8, 1929 and eventually grossed a total of $1,018,000. [1] It was Lon Chaney's fifth highest-grossing film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. [8]

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer American media company

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of feature films and television programs. One of the world's oldest film studios, MGM's headquarters are located at 245 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

See also

Related Research Articles

Lon Chaney American actor

Leonidas Frank "Lon" Chaney was an American stage and film actor, make-up artist, director and screenwriter. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early 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 he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces".

<i>London After Midnight</i> (film) 1927 lost film directed by Tod Browning

London After Midnight is a 1927 American silent mystery film with horror overtones directed and co-produced by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney, with Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall, and Polly Moran. The film was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was based on the scenario, "The Hypnotist", also written by Browning.

<i>The Hunchback of Notre Dame</i> (1923 film) 1923 film directed by Wallace Worsley

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American romantic drama film with horror elements starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace Worsley, and produced by Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg. The supporting cast includes Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier, and Brandon Hurst. The film was Universal's "Super Jewel" of 1923 and was their most successful silent film, grossing $3.5 million.

<i>The Shock</i> (1923 film) 1923 film

The Shock is a 1923 American silent drama film directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Lon Chaney as a cripple named Wilse Dilling. The film was based on a story by William Dudley Pelley. This is one of the rare Lon Chaney films where he gets the girl.

<i>The Miracle Man</i> (1919 film) 1919 film by George Loane Tucker

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.

<i>The Unholy Three</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

The Unholy Three is a 1930 American Pre-Code melodrama directed by Jack Conway and starring Lon Chaney. Its plot involves a crime spree. The film is a remake of the 1925 film of the same name, with both films based on the novel The Unholy Three, by Tod Robbins.

The Honor of the Family is a 1912 American silent short drama film produced by the Rex Motion Picture Company. The film is a melodramatic one between two brothers and a woman named Marja. Gerald admires the girl and warns his visiting brother, Claude, to leave her alone. Infatuated, Claude and Marja secretly marry before Claude returns to England with a promise to return for her. As the months pass, Marja becomes broken-hearted and attempts suicide, but ends up crippled for life. Claude dies and Gerald cares for Marja, even forging a letter to keep her spirits up. Marja comes to love Gerald and all is revealed on a later date. The film was released on November 7, 1912. The film was claimed to be the debut of Lon Chaney, but this has been disputed. Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces states that Chaney's film debut occurred after his wife's suicide attempt in April 1913, but notes the possibility existed during his unemployment in 1912. The film is presumed lost.

The Ways of Fate is a 1913 American silent short romance film produced by the American Film Manufacturing Company. The film's directorial and producer roles have been both attributed to Allan Dwan, but other sources point to Wallace Reid as director. The film's fictional plot is centered on Jim Conway, who grew up wanting to avenge his father's death and headed West to seek his father's killer. Lost in the mountains, he is saved by a young woman and the two fall in love. After a few weeks with her, Conway reveals the reason he came west and the young woman's father overhears it. The old man confesses to killing Conway's father, over a game of cards, and bares his chest. Conway refuses to take revenge, because love had diminished such feelings. The film was released on April 19, 1913 and it had a widespread national release. It is not known whether the film currently survives, but it is presumed lost.

<i>Suspense</i> (1913 film) 1913 film

Suspense is a 1913 American silent short film thriller directed by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley. Weber also wrote the scenario, and stars in the film with Valentine Paul. The film features early examples of a split screen shot and a car chase. The Internet Movie Database lists Lon Chaney as having an unconfirmed and uncredited brief role, however this is disputed. A print of the film is preserved at the film archive of the British Film Institute.

<i>Shon the Piper</i> 1913 film by Otis Turner

Shon the Piper is a 1913 American silent short historical romantic drama film directed by Otis Turner and starring Robert Z. Leonard. The film follows a Scottish Duke who disguises himself as a piper and falls in love with a woman by the name of Madge. The woman's father, refuses to let the two marry because he wants his daughter to marry the Laird of the Isla. At the wedding, Shon steals Madge away and a battle ensues between the clans. The film was produced the 101 Bison Film Company and released on September 30, 1913. The film saw a widespread national release and garnered some positive attention. It was claimed that Lon Chaney appeared in this film, but this has been disputed. The film is presumed lost.

Poor Jake's Demise is a 1913 American silent short slapstick comedy film directed by Allen Curtis and featuring Max Asher and Lon Chaney. The slapstick film focuses on Jake who finds his wife in a compromising position with another man and later takes his revenge with a seltzer bottle. It is one of several slapstick comedy films Chaney made for Universal at the start of his career and is also his first credited screen role. The film was presumed lost, but a fragment of the film was discovered in England in May 2006 and restored.

<i>The Restless Spirit</i> 1913 film by Allan Dwan

The Restless Spirit is a 1913 American silent short drama film written and directed by Allan Dwan, featuring J. Warren Kerrigan and Pauline Bush. The film is based on Thomas Gray's 1751 poem, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, and tells the story of a man who wishes to be a conqueror. The Dreamer heads out into the desert and is nursed back to health by the Desert Flower. A series of illusions follows which shows the futility of conquest when he cannot conquer his own community. He returns and eventually becomes respected by the community that once ridiculed him. The film makes use of numerous dissolves which were technically difficult to execute, and reportedly sent the cameraman to the hospital due to stress. The film may have been the last unbilled appearance by Lon Chaney, and was released on October 27, 1913 by Universal Film Manufacturing Company under the Victor label. The film is presumed lost.

<i>Bloodhounds of the North</i> 1913 film by Allan Dwan

Bloodhounds of the North is a 1913 American silent short drama film directed by Allan Dwan and starring Murdock MacQuarrie, Pauline Bush, and Lon Chaney. The film is now considered lost.

<i>The Honor of the Mounted</i> 1914 film

The Honor of the Mounted is a 1914 American silent short drama film directed by Allan Dwan and featuring Murdock MacQuarrie, Pauline Bush, and Lon Chaney. The film is now considered lost.

George Loane Tucker American film director, actor and screenwriter

George Loane Tucker was an American actor, silent film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor.

<i>The Tower of Lies</i> 1925 film by Victor Sjöström

The Tower of Lies is a 1925 American silent drama film directed by Victor Sjöström based upon Selma Lagerlöf's novel The Emperor of Portugallia (1914). Released one year after He Who Gets Slapped, the film marks the second collaboration between Sjöström, Lon Chaney and Norma Shearer. Also starring are William Haines, Ian Keith and Lew Cody.

<i>Voices of the City</i> 1921 film by Wallace Worsley

Voices of the City is a 1921 American silent crime drama film starring Leatrice Joy and Lon Chaney that was directed by Wallace Worsley. It is considered to be a lost film.

<i>The Light in the Dark</i> 1922 film by Clarence Brown

The Light in the Dark is a 1922 American silent drama film directed by Clarence Brown and stars Lon Chaney.

Lon Chaney filmography

Lon Chaney was an American actor during the age of silent films. He is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup. Chaney is 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 he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces."

<i>The Gift Supreme</i> 1920 film

The Gift Supreme is a 1920 American silent drama film starring Bernard Durning, Seena Owen, and Tully Marshall The film was written and directed by Ollie Sellers and based on the 1916 novel of the same name by George Allan England. The supporting cast includes Melbourne MacDowell, Eugenie Besserer, Jack Curtis, Anna Dodge, Claire McDowell and Lon Chaney in a villainous bit role.

References

  1. 1 2 Blake, Michael Francis (1995). A Thousand Faces: Lon Chaney's Unique Artistry in Motion Pictures. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 331. ISBN   1-879-51121-5.
  2. Blake, Michael F. (2001). The Films of Lon Chaney. Madison Books. p. 187. ISBN   1-568-33237-8.
  3. Blake, Michael F. (1997). A Thousand Faces: Lon Chaney's Unique Artistry in Motion Pictures. Vestal Press. p. 262. ISBN   1-461-73076-7.
  4. Thunder at silentera.com database
  5. Blake 1997 p.263
  6. Basinger, Jeanine (2000). Silent Stars . Wesleyan University Press. p. 262. ISBN   0-819-56451-6.
  7. Dixon, Wheeler Winston (2010). A History of Horror. Rutgers University Press. p. 13. ISBN   0-813-55039-4.
  8. Blake 1997 p.267