Released 6/10/23 by Universal/Jewel; Director: Lambert Hillyer; Screenplay: Charles Kenyon, from a story by William Dudley Pelley; Cinematography: Dwight Warren; 7 reels (86738'); Print Source: National Film Archives (London), Film Preservation Associates
CAST: Lon Chaney (Wilse Dilling), Virginia Valli (Gertrude Hadley), Jack Mower (Jack Cooper), William Welsh (Mischa Hadley), Henry Barrows (John Cooper, Sr.), Christine Mayo (Anne Vincent), Harry Devere (Olaf Wismer), John Beck (Bill), Walter Long (The Captain)
SYNOPSIS: Wilse Dilling is a crippled underling of "Queen Anne," underworld ruler of San Francisco's Barbary Coast. Anne hates Mischa Hadley, a man who betrayed her in her youth, and she has plotted revenge for years. She sends Dilling to the small town where Hadley lives to keep watch over him and help with her plans. She has been blackmailing Hadley to the point where he has been forced to embezzle money from his own bank. While waiting in the town, Dilling meets Hadley's daughter Gertrude. Her kindly treatment of the cripple, along with the clean country environment, begin to transform Dilling into a better man. He is heartbroken to learn that she is betrothed to Jack Cooper, but Dilling is a good loser, only telling Cooper that he must always treat her well, or Dilling will punish him. Anne tells Dilling that she is going ahead with her plan to ruin Hadley. Knowing that he is taken money from the bank, she has tipped off the bank examiners who will arrive the next day. Knowing that Hadley will go to prison and Gertrude will be ruined, Dilling plants dynamite in the bank and blows up the vault to conceal the shortage. Unfortunately, Gertrude comes to the bank just as the charge goes off, and she is crippled. She is taken to San Francisco for treatment by a specialist, and Anne, seeing another opportunity to get revenge, plans to capture Gertrude. Learning of the plot, Dilling goes to Cooper to enlist his aid, but he proves to be spineless and unwilling to help. Just as Dilling thinks all hope is lost, the great San Francisco earthquake rocks the city. Anne and her gang are killed when their hideout collapses, but Dilling survives. Through surgery, faith, and love, Dilling's crippling affliction is corrected, and while Gertrude, now walking again, has her back turned, he leaves his wheelchair and walks into her arms.
"In affording Lon Chaney one of the spectacular characterizations for which he has shown an aptitude, Universal has achieved a striking success in THE SHOCK...For his followers the production will most likely have an intense appeal...At times his extreme physical deformity and resulting contortion are rather harrowing. He gives a vivid performance, but sometimes it is too intense to be pleasant." ---Moving Picture World
"Picture is an underworld story, with Chaney cast as a cripple, and the effort apparently was to give it some touch of the atmosphere of THE MIRACLE MAN, in which Chaney came into fame almost overnight in the part of the "Frog." The subject misses by a wide margin the high aim of the other vehicle and degenerates into a cheap shocker." ---Variety
NOTES: The working title of the film was BITTERSWEET. Some sources credit the scenario to Arthur Statter. At a production cost of $90,220, THE SHOCK was a relatively modest film, but it earned $257,327 in revenue, giving Universal a respectable profit of $46,965.
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