The Wicked Darling


1h 15m 1919

Film Details

Also Known As
The Gutter Rose, The Rose of the Dark, The Rose of the Night
Genre
Romance
Release Date
Feb 24, 1919
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Film Mfg Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Film Mfg Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

Mary Stevens learned to be a pickpocket from her guardian Fadem, an unscrupulous pawnbroker, and her companion Stoop Connors. One evening, while Mary and Stoop wait outside a reception for opportunities to rob guests, inside Adele Hoyt breaks her engagement with Kent Mortimer when he confesses that he is broke. When the pearl necklace that Kent gave Adele falls into the crowd outside, Mary grabs it. She hides in Kent's house, and after they become acquainted, she quits her crooked life to work as a waitress. One night, Stoop attacks her and shoots Kent in the arm when he interferes. When Mary learns from Kent's landlady that he owes rent, she pawns two pearls with Fadem, who sends Stoop to find the rest. After Stoop informs Kent of Mary's theft, Kent denounces her, and she gives the necklace to Adele, who returns it to Kent. After Kent tracks Mary to Fadem's, he prevents Stoop from choking Mary. Just as Stoop is about to kill Kent, Mary brings a burly bartender to intercede. Mary and Kent then buy a farm out West.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Gutter Rose, The Rose of the Dark, The Rose of the Night
Genre
Romance
Release Date
Feb 24, 1919
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Film Mfg Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Film Mfg Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Articles

Victory/The Wicked Darling - Lon Chaney Double Feature on DVD


The most remarkable thing about the best movies Lon Chaney (1883-1930) made during his 1920s heyday wasn't the use of make-up, most famously in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, which would gain him the "Man of a Thousand Faces" nickname. It was his commitment to his roles (of which the make-up was just a part) and his ability to play audience-challenging characters that were menacing on the outside, sympathetic on the inside. He did so to great effect in such standouts as He Who Gets Slapped, The Unknown and Laugh Clown Laugh. Hollywood still has little room for leading men with unconventional looks like Chaney - wasn't Paul Giamatti's Oscar® snub a fresh reminder of that? - which makes his career all the more special.

Image Entertainment's new disc teaming the 1919 hour-long features Victory and The Wicked Darling offers the chance to see Chaney when, generally speaking, he was allowed to be only menacing. Of course, he's not the lead in either, so to judge them as "Chaney pictures" is questionable. Instead, it's best to see them as above-average silent melodramas in which good and evil tussle. The struggle plays out most convincingly in The Wicked Darling, which is placed first on the disc. Coincidentally, it's also the movie in which Chaney plays a more central role and one of his early collaborations with director Tod Browning (The Unholy Three, The Unknown).

It's the skid-row tale of Mary (Priscilla Dean), a down-on-her-luck lass kept down by "Stoop" Conners (Chaney) and lecherous pawnbroker Pete Fadem (Spottiswoode Aitken). The movie makes no reference to sex, but these two men sure feel like her pimps, though the story's main concern is thievery. Mary, who we're told right away is good-hearted (an intertitle likens her to a soiled rose we see), steals a pearl necklace belonging to a socialite and, instead of handing it over to Stoop and Fadem, goes straight, because she's fallen for strapping Kent (Wellington Playter). Of course, Stoop eventually finds Mary, Kent must fight off the villains and Mary must come clean with Kent, who hates thieves.

Chaney makes Stoop believably ruthless and crafty, and the story zips along nicely, with Browning's penchant for the grotesque adding flavor to the skid-row setting. Because of that accursed setting, the many pockmarks on the picture (the disc was transferred from the sole surviving print of the movie) don't really bother you. The occasional cuts in that Dutch print of the film - someone will walk up to a door, then be in the room, without ever having gone through the door - are more jarring.

The visuals are pristine in Maurice Tourneur's lush Victory. This scenic melodrama, billed as "an island tale by Joseph Conrad" (it's based on Conrad's novel), involves reclusive Heyst (Jack Holt), a Thoreau-like westerner who's secluded himself in the Dutch East Indies. While concluding some business on an adjacent island, he meets miserable beauty Alma (Seena Owen), who invites herself back to his island, much to the chagrin of the boorish hotelier (Wallace Beery) trying to seduce her. The movie slightly lost me when it has its two leads sneak away from the hotel as if they were breaking out of prison - it seems contrived that they can't just freely leave. There's also her boss in an all-female orchestra to elude, but it's still far-fetched.

Chaney plays one of the trio of cutthroats that the hotelier entices to go after Heyst and Alma. Chaney's performance gives a hint of things to come, since he's practically unrecognizable at first (his character sports a bandito moustache) and because he eventually falls for Alma, and tries to doublecross the leader of the trio because of it. Victory also makes you realize that Chaney, however physically imposing he seems, was not a tall man. Every other actor towers over him in Victory, as Playter does in The Wicked Darling. Of course, shortness never stopped Chaney from overshadowing bigger men. The Victory/The Wicked Darling disc, with solid new musical scores from Eric Beheim, isn't the first stop for the curious to get a taste of Chaney, but it's a worthy experience for those already familiar with his 1920s work.

For more information about Victory/The Wicked Darling, visit Image Entertainment. To order Victory/The Wicked Darling, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman
Victory/the Wicked Darling - Lon Chaney Double Feature On Dvd

Victory/The Wicked Darling - Lon Chaney Double Feature on DVD

The most remarkable thing about the best movies Lon Chaney (1883-1930) made during his 1920s heyday wasn't the use of make-up, most famously in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, which would gain him the "Man of a Thousand Faces" nickname. It was his commitment to his roles (of which the make-up was just a part) and his ability to play audience-challenging characters that were menacing on the outside, sympathetic on the inside. He did so to great effect in such standouts as He Who Gets Slapped, The Unknown and Laugh Clown Laugh. Hollywood still has little room for leading men with unconventional looks like Chaney - wasn't Paul Giamatti's Oscar® snub a fresh reminder of that? - which makes his career all the more special. Image Entertainment's new disc teaming the 1919 hour-long features Victory and The Wicked Darling offers the chance to see Chaney when, generally speaking, he was allowed to be only menacing. Of course, he's not the lead in either, so to judge them as "Chaney pictures" is questionable. Instead, it's best to see them as above-average silent melodramas in which good and evil tussle. The struggle plays out most convincingly in The Wicked Darling, which is placed first on the disc. Coincidentally, it's also the movie in which Chaney plays a more central role and one of his early collaborations with director Tod Browning (The Unholy Three, The Unknown). It's the skid-row tale of Mary (Priscilla Dean), a down-on-her-luck lass kept down by "Stoop" Conners (Chaney) and lecherous pawnbroker Pete Fadem (Spottiswoode Aitken). The movie makes no reference to sex, but these two men sure feel like her pimps, though the story's main concern is thievery. Mary, who we're told right away is good-hearted (an intertitle likens her to a soiled rose we see), steals a pearl necklace belonging to a socialite and, instead of handing it over to Stoop and Fadem, goes straight, because she's fallen for strapping Kent (Wellington Playter). Of course, Stoop eventually finds Mary, Kent must fight off the villains and Mary must come clean with Kent, who hates thieves. Chaney makes Stoop believably ruthless and crafty, and the story zips along nicely, with Browning's penchant for the grotesque adding flavor to the skid-row setting. Because of that accursed setting, the many pockmarks on the picture (the disc was transferred from the sole surviving print of the movie) don't really bother you. The occasional cuts in that Dutch print of the film - someone will walk up to a door, then be in the room, without ever having gone through the door - are more jarring. The visuals are pristine in Maurice Tourneur's lush Victory. This scenic melodrama, billed as "an island tale by Joseph Conrad" (it's based on Conrad's novel), involves reclusive Heyst (Jack Holt), a Thoreau-like westerner who's secluded himself in the Dutch East Indies. While concluding some business on an adjacent island, he meets miserable beauty Alma (Seena Owen), who invites herself back to his island, much to the chagrin of the boorish hotelier (Wallace Beery) trying to seduce her. The movie slightly lost me when it has its two leads sneak away from the hotel as if they were breaking out of prison - it seems contrived that they can't just freely leave. There's also her boss in an all-female orchestra to elude, but it's still far-fetched. Chaney plays one of the trio of cutthroats that the hotelier entices to go after Heyst and Alma. Chaney's performance gives a hint of things to come, since he's practically unrecognizable at first (his character sports a bandito moustache) and because he eventually falls for Alma, and tries to doublecross the leader of the trio because of it. Victory also makes you realize that Chaney, however physically imposing he seems, was not a tall man. Every other actor towers over him in Victory, as Playter does in The Wicked Darling. Of course, shortness never stopped Chaney from overshadowing bigger men. The Victory/The Wicked Darling disc, with solid new musical scores from Eric Beheim, isn't the first stop for the curious to get a taste of Chaney, but it's a worthy experience for those already familiar with his 1920s work. For more information about Victory/The Wicked Darling, visit Image Entertainment. To order Victory/The Wicked Darling, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Working titles for this film were The Gutter Rose, The Rose of the Dark, and The Rose of the Night. Some sources list Waldemar Young as the scenarist. Campbell's story was originally called "The Moth"; although some sources state that the source of the film was a story entitled "The Gutter Rose," this is probably erroneous. A trade article published during early production called this a Bluebird film. The man playing the bartender in the film was a former wrestler known as Kalla Pascha, the Terrible Turk.