8 September 2010 | zpzjones
Chaney Fans Get Trapped
The print of this film is so washed out I had to keep freeze framing to read the intertitles. It doesn't help that the particular copy I was watching kept sticking throughout. Still photos of Lon Chaney & Irene Rich taken on the set of this movie show that the cinematography was top notch and not the mess this video presentation indicates. Chaney's character (Gaspard the Good) is a similar northwoods trapper with nearly identical makeup to the Raoul character in "Nomads of the North"(gosh how many trappers did Chaney play in his career?) The character Gaspard is tricked out of his land by the film's villain Benson (Alan Hale Sr.). Though the Chaney character has been wronged, he is quite unlikable. This makes the viewer more irritated because the print is so crappy. Actor Herbert Standing's scenes are so washed out & obliterated that you can't see his face. This movie, though similar in theme to "Nomads of the North", is such a 100% turnabout from the pleasures of that movie. Both in story and film preservation. Stanley Goethals, the cute kid from Chaney's "Outside the Law", is given an almost identical though less engaging role here. His cuteness in "Outside the Law" was accentuated by the charm of Priscilla Dean in the apartment scenes. In "The Trap" his cuteness is dissipated by the unlikable adults around him. Why would Chaney want to raise the child born from his enemy(Hale) and his former girlfriend (Dagmar Godowsky; in a most unflattering & brief role), who had left him for Hale? Where was Child Protective Services when you needed them? Leading lady Irene Rich, a beautiful actress who appeared in many silent films, is reduced to looking like a drab schoolmarm(she's actually playing the local teacher). She hasn't the chance to shine like Betty Blythe in "Nomads of the North". Still photos from the set of the movie show Irene Rich wearing a pretty Betty Crocker type checkered dress. You can't tell in the print of the film because her face & body are so washed out. I realize that the condition of the print of this film is one of the reasons I give it a negative review. The music score is monotonous & uninvolved with the action on the screen. "The Trap" certainly did not look like this when new and had likely been released tinted and toned. If asked 'have you seen a bad Lon Chaney film'? I'd say no!, but this movie almost came close. The enjoyment of a silent film depends so much on the visual quality of the action you're watching. I waited a long time to see this film & am somewhat disappointed. If a better print shows up, I'll think about doing another review when I can see the action. Also I don't recognize any evidence of Creighton Chaney(aka Lon Jr) in this print of "The Trap", in which his hands are supposedly seen. Lastly Chaney fans should appreciate that this film 'survives' in any kind of condition. directed by Robert Thornby, Universal Pictures.