Released 8/25/15 by Universal/Victor; Director: Lon Chaney; Screenplay: Lon Chaney, from a story by Milton Moore; 1 reel
CAST: Lon Chaney (Charles Harding), Gretchen Lederer (Mary Ellis), Katherine Campbell (The Invalid Sister)
SYNOPSIS: By the flickering light of a candle, an old peddler hides a bundle of money in a secret chamber in his chimney. Mary Ellis, who lives nearby, is saving money so she can take her invalid sister away to a better climate. One day, Mary comes to the peddler's rescue when some boys throw stones at him. Mary opens a bank account, and becomes acquainted with Charles Harding, the cashier. Charles is secretly possessed with a tremendous greed for cash, and he yearns to take all of the banks funds. Mary has finally saved enough money to take her sister away, when she learns that the bank has failed, and that Charles has absconded with all the funds. The peddler sees Mary pounding on the bank doors, and he hurries to retrieve his hidden money. As he prepares to leave, Mary appears at the door and, thinking he has seen a vision, he lurches back and throws the bills on the floor, telling her he has robbed the bank. He tears off his hair and beard, revealing himself to be Charles in disguise. Mary is horrified and pleads with him to return the money to the poor. He gives her the money, but as she leaves, he becomes delirious and starts after her. He is stopped by a vision of Mary hovering over him, and he staggers back to the chimney, where he sinks to the floor and dies.
"This is novel and well played by Lon Chaney as the cashier, and Gretchen Lederer as the girl." ---Motion Picture News
NOTES: Chaney has an opportunity to play a dual role in this drama. He appears as Charles Harding, the young bank cashier, but also plays Harding disguised as the elderly peddler in makeup. Lon would send pictures of his films to his youngest brother George, often with notes written on the back. In the collection of the George Chaney estate, while there were few pictures from early Universal pictures, there were three different stills from THE CHIMNEY'S SECRET. With Lon playing two roles, writing, and directing, it suggests that he was particularly proud of this effort and it is a pity that this, like so many other of his films from this period, is lost.
© 1996,2000,2013 Jon C. Mirsalis
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