The Penalty (1920)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama, Horror

The Penalty (1920) Poster

A deformed criminal mastermind plans to loot the city of San Francisco as well as revenge himself on the doctor who mistakenly amputated his legs.



  • Lon Chaney in The Penalty (1920)
  • Lon Chaney in The Penalty (1920)
  • Lon Chaney and Gouverneur Morris in The Penalty (1920)
  • Lon Chaney in The Penalty (1920)
  • The Penalty (1920)
  • Lon Chaney and Jim Mason in The Penalty (1920)

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22 February 2006 | JoeKarlosi
| The Penalty (1920) ***
This was the first starring role for Lon Chaney, and he's terrific playing a double amputee whose legs were both needlessly cut off as a boy by a young doctor who felt it was required to save the child's life after a serious accident. The boy eventually grows up to be an embittered underworld leader, looking to settle the score. Chaney gives a great performance and he is still amazing to watch today, even 86 years later, while painfully contorting his body to produce the needed effect, utilizing only his talent and ingenuity in place of today's CGI effects. Sure, Hollywood would have used CG back then if they had the luxury, but I still find it more mesmerizing this way. Lon had to pull his legs up behind his back and have them strapped tightly underneath a long overcoat, hobbling about on his knees. The direction is solid and the story is consistently interesting and multi-layered. It's very easy to sympathize with Chaney's character through his strong performance, but I felt that the way his criminal behavior was explained for the conclusion was a tad of a letdown. Still, quite a worthwhile film. *** out of ****

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