(director: Benjamin Christensen; screenwriters: Bradley King/Stig Esbern (story)/Joseph Farnham; cinematographer: Merritt B. Gerstad; editor: John W. English; music: Jimmy Schafer; cast: Lon Chaney (Sergei), Barbara Bedford (Tatiana), Ricardo Cortez (Dimitri), Mack Swain (Mr. Gaidaroff), Emily Fitzroy (Mrs. Gaidaroff), Charles Puffy (Ivan, cook), Kai Schmidt (Butler), Johnny Mack Brown (Officer at table); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Erich Pommer; MGM; 1927-silent)

It’s a solid effort.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Danish horror film filmmaker Benjamin Christensen(“The Haunted House”/”The Devil’s Circus”/”Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages“) helms this historical silent for the Hollywood studio of MGM. One of the few films he made in America. It’s based on a story by Stig Esbern and the screenplay is by Bradley King. It’s a solid effort.

It’s set in war-torn Siberia, during the Russian Revolution. The wealthy Countess Tatiana (Barbara Bedford) wishes to return home to Novokursk. As a guide she hires the hungry stranger peasant Sergei (Lon Chaney), and promises him food and money if he keeps his promise. He also must pretend to be her husband. After crossing through the woods and the peasant getting whipped to protect the identity of the countess, they reach her destination. There she gives a message to the czarist leaders, while he’s rewarded with a menial kitchen job. The peasant is politically influenced by the Bolshevik cook (Charles Puffy) and sides with the revolutionaries in hating the ruling class.

Both the aristocrats and Bolsheviks are skewered for their cruelties.

Lon Chaney is remembered as the“Man of a Thousand Faces.” His performance, in this unheralded film, is pure gold.

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