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Sunday, June 8, 2008

THE WICKED DARLING (1919)

The first pic in the legendary collaboration between horror masters Lon Chaney and director Tod Browning was this modest drama from 1919 which officially stars the little remembered Priscilla Dean. She partners Chaney in scams to rob rich swells of their jewelry. But when she falls for one of their marks, her better nature proves that a rose may bloom even in a gutter. Browning got a lot of atmosphere out of just a few sets and produced a handsome look as far as the deterioration on the one surviving print allows us to see. (Hats off to the Netherlands film archive for sharing so much of their treasure.) There’s not quite enough plot to carry us along, but it’s always instructive to see Chaney working in make-up mufti, outside his usual fach.

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