Thursday, December 30, 2010

By the Sun's Rays (1914)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 5 out of 10
Director: Tod Browning
Starring: M.J. Macquarrie, Lon Chaney, Seymour Hastings
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Silent, Drama, Western
Runtime: 11 minutes

By the Sun's Rays is one of silent film star Lon Chaney's earliest films (possibly his earliest surviving), during an era where he was mostly scripted as a villain.  In this short film, even though Chaney is listed second to Macquarrie, its obvious who's the real star.  With his mastery of pantomime and facial expressions, Chaney creates a captivating villain.
Frank Lawler (Chaney) is a corrupt clerk who uses his position to alert a posse of outlaws when shipments of gold are coming through the area using a small mirror to reflect the sunlight and act as a beacon.  Detective John Murdock is called in to investigate the situation, and once Lawler is found out, pretty young Dora Davis (Agnes Vernon), the object of Lawler's affections plays bait to stall for time.

Since this film is so short, instead of posting a trailer, I'm simply going to post the entire film.  It's only eleven minutes, and despite its mediocre rating is still worth seeing.  Mostly, I gave it a lower rating because there's not enough time to build up a great plot, and I couldn't help but wish that Chaney's role had been more substantial.  A nice tidbit, though, for Chaney fans, and enjoyable overall.

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