Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Revenge is a dish best served… to the lions!

He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Sunday July 17, 7:30pm, The Castro, San Francisco

A gifted scientist is betrayed by his mentor who discredits him, then steals his research, and his wife. Humiliated, Paul Beaumont (Lon Chaney) disappears into self-exile and the anonymity of life as a circus clown. He contently suffers for years until his nemesis re-appears and plots to corrupt the lovely young bareback rider Consuelo (Norma Shearer) with the help of her wretched father.

The first original Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production had to be spectacular and it was. Based on the play by Leonid Andreyev, He Who Gets Slapped (1924) was the second of nine Hollywood films directed by Swedish master Victor Sjöström. Ethereal images of clowns used thematically throughout the film are both hauntingly beautiful and horrifying. Chaney delivers a searing (and possibly his best) role as a broken, demoralized shell of a man, opposite a luminous Shearer, John Gilbert as Bezano her intended, Tully Marshall, Ford Sterling and of course, Leo.

The 16th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Midnites for Maniacs present Lon Chaney in Victor Sjöström's MGM masterpiece, He Who Gets Slapped (1924) with live misical accompaniment performed returning artists, The Matti Bye Ensemble.

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