26 November 2013 | kevinolzak
John Wray and Boris Karloff
1932's "The Miracle Man," a remake of the lost 1919 silent that made a star of Lon Chaney, should be better remembered than it is. John Wray admirably fills the role of Chaney's phony cripple 'The Frog,' and Boris Karloff, still a supporting player in the brief six month period after "Frankenstein," adds to its position as a pre-code Hollywood curio (Boris would never return to Paramount, which did very few horror films). Chester Morris, Ned Sparks, and Sylvia Sidney round out the quartet of confidence tricksters who get more than they bargained for when they take on 'The Patriarch' (Hobart Bosworth), alias 'The Miracle Man.' John Wray was enjoying one of his most prominent seasons, with memorable turns in both "Doctor X" and "The Death Kiss." As for Karloff, he only features in the opening reel, playing Chinatown tavern owner Nikko, slight Oriental accent not unlike his Chinese general in 1937's "West of Shanghai," whose lecherous designs on Sylvia Sidney are not reciprocated. Rather than accept his usual cut from Morris, he chooses to spy on the undressing girl through a convenient keyhole, earning him a well deserved fall from grace. Following "Business and Pleasure" and "Night World," Karloff's star status at Universal would be solidified by "The Old Dark House," with genre vehicles thereafter prepared especially for him.