Released 1/10/26 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Director: Tod Browning; Screenplay: Waldemar Young, from the story The Mockingbird by Tod Browning; Cinematography: Percy Hilburn; Set Design: Cedric Gibbons and Arnold Gillespie; Titles: Joe Farnham; Film Editor: Errol Taggart; Wardrobe: Kathleen Kay, Maude Marsh, and André-ani; 7 reels (6,688'); Print Source: Warner Brothers Classics
CAST: Lon Chaney (The Blackbird/The Bishop), Renée Adorée (Fifi Lorraine), Owen Moore (West End Bertie), Doris Lloyd (Limehouse Polly), Andy MacLennon (The Shadow), William Weston (Red), Eric Mayne (A Sightseer), Sidney Bracy (Bertie's No. 1 Man), Ernie S. Adams (Bertie's No. 2 Man), Polly Moran (Flower Woman), Frank Norcross (Music Hall Host), Willie Fung, Lionel Belmore, Billy Mack, Peggy Best
SYNOPSIS: The Blackbird is a master criminal who stages daring robberies in London's Limehouse district, and between crimes disguises himself as The Bishop, a kindly, crippled keeper of a rescue mission. The Blackbird falls for Fifi Lorraine, a singer in the music hall, and when she admires a diamond collar worn by one of the guests, he promises he will get it for her. "West End Bertie," an aristocratic crook who frequents the dance hall, has also noticed the jewels and promised them to Fifi. The Shadow, one of the Blackbird's men, holds up the party and steals the diamonds, but he is in turn held up by one of Bertie's men. The Blackbird breaks into Bertie's apartment and steals the jewels, but Bertie has already won Fifi's heart and they are planning to marry. They go to The Bishop and ask him to perform the ceremony, but he tells Bertie that he must first return all of his stolen loot. Scotland Yard has learned of the theft of the diamond collar and search Bertie's apartment. While searching, The Blackbird shoots one of the officers and the blame is fixed on Bertie. Bertie hides out at the mission where The Bishop tricks he and Fifi into a quarrel. The Shadow is captured by the police and reveals that the Blackbird shot the officer in Bertie's apartment. Limehouse Polly, The Blackbird's old sweetheart, rushes to the mission to warn him that the police are on their way. The Blackbird fakes a fight between himself and The Bishop, and in his haste to change back into the costume of The Bishop, he is struck by an opening door and finds himself permanently twisted as he always pretended to be. Fifi and Bertie are reunited, while The Blackbird breathes his dying breath.
"They're still playing up the fact that Lon Chaney can make himself more hideous and misshapen than anybody in pictures...THE BLACKBIRD is an okeh (sic) picture---good for the first runs and the smaller houses. What's more remarkable about it is that Chaney, who has recently had a great run of pictures (with a corresponding rise in fame), sticks to his more or less old line with outstanding success." ---Variety
"Mr. Chaney's depiction of the two types of the crook is one of the finest exemplifications of screen artistry one would hope to behold." ---The New York Times
NOTES: The film was shot in 26 days for a cost of $166,000. It made a profit of only $63,000, the lowest profit by far of any of Chaney's MGM films.
© 2000,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
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