30 April 2010 | kevinolzak
Lon Chaney saves the day
"Eyes of the Underworld" (1942), a good remake of the original 1929 crime melodrama of the same title, features Lon Chaney in between "The Ghost of Frankenstein" and "The Mummy's Tomb." Richard Dix stars as Police Chief Richard Bryan, investigating a ring of auto thieves stealing rubber and metal from the war effort during WW2. The thieves are aware that the Chief spent three years in jail for embezzlement long before his present position, and allow one of their gang, Gordon Finch (Marc Lawrence), to be captured, so as to try blackmailing him into releasing him. The Chief decides to resign his post, but is later arrested when Finch kills a guard and escapes, a clever frame-up by the villains. Just when all seems lost, The Chief is rescued by his faithful chauffeur Benny (Chaney), who had also spent time in the penitentiary, taking it upon himself to capture one of the gang and learn their whereabouts (they use musical cues from "The Wolf Man" and "The Ghost of Frankenstein," his previous two classics, in these scenes). In a serious role, Chaney displays a slight Lennie impression, but comes off fairly well, particularly in his climactic encounter with Finch (Marc Lawrence was careful during the fight, admitting of Chaney, "he hurts people"). Wendy Barrie appears as the Chief's loving secretary, and Don Porter gives a valiant effort before Chaney saves the day. A stellar B-film due to fast paced direction from the reliable Roy William Neill, who would go on to helm the last 11 Sherlock Holmes features with Basil Rathbone, and "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," one of Chaney's best sequels (he had previously shot Columbia's "The Black Room" in 1935, which featured THREE of Boris Karloff's finest performances).