London After Midnight (1927)

[Note: The following review is of a non-Peary title; click here to read more.]

“Honest, Sir James — they’re dead people from the grave! Vampires is what they are!”

Synopsis:
A detective (Lon Chaney) tries to help solve the mysterious death of a man found shot with a suicide note. Five years later, when the man’s body is found missing, Chaney returns to his house, which is now inhabited by two mysterious vampire-like creatures (Lon Chaney, Sr. and Edna Tichenor).

Genres:

  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Lon Chaney, Sr. Films
  • Silent Films
  • Tod Browning Films
  • Vampires

Review:
In his Alternate Oscars book, Peary nominates Lon Chaney as one of the Best Actors of 1927/1928 for his work in both Laugh, Clown, Laugh and London After Midnight — yet the latter title has been a notorious “lost film” since 1967, and thus unavailable for viewing except in the form of a “creative reconstruction” using stills and relying upon the screenplay to flesh out the storyline. It’s highly possible that Peary remembers seeing the film in revival sometime before the final (known) print was burned in an electrical fire in MGM’s vaults — but of course his selection remains maddeningly difficult to verify, given that it’s impossible to actually see Chaney in action. (Stills of his gruesome make-up don’t quite count.)

However, I’m reviewing it briefly here simply given that it would most certainly be considered a “Missing Title”, if only a copy is ever found! Regardless of whether or not it’s a great movie — and many insist it’s actually not — its fame as perhaps the most sought-after lost film makes it automatically a “must see” for film fanatics, at least for the time being. Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935) was a remake, and similar spoilers abound, so I once again won’t say much about the plot — except to note that, from the reconstruction, it looks like a reasonably enjoyable, darkly comedic whodunit which any fans of Chaney’s work would likely want to see. (He plays both the detective investigating the murder, and the odd-looking man who has come to live in the deceased victim’s house.)

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lon Chaney’s incredible make-up

Must See?
Yes, if it ever emerges, simply for its curiosity value!

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