Outside The Law

Outside The Law (1920)

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Outside The Law (1920) 4K Color“Outside the Law” is a 1920 silent film directed by Tod Browning and starring Priscilla Dean, Lon Chaney, and Wheeler Oakman.

The film is a crime drama that explores themes of love, betrayal, and redemption against the backdrop of the criminal underworld. It is a significant work of the silent era and showcases the talents of its cast and crew.

The story revolves around Molly Madden (played by Priscilla Dean), a young woman living in the slums of San Francisco. Molly is the daughter of Black Mike Sylva (played by Lon Chaney), a notorious criminal leader in the city. Molly, however, has chosen a different path and is determined to lead an honest life. She is in love with her childhood friend, Dapper Bill Ballard (played by Wheeler Oakman), a police officer who is unaware of her criminal connections.

As the plot unfolds, Molly finds herself caught in a web of deception and danger. When her father’s gang plans a heist, she is torn between her loyalty to her family and her love for Bill. The film explores the moral dilemmas faced by its characters, especially Molly, who must make difficult choices that will determine her destiny.

Lon Chaney delivers a remarkable performance as Black Mike, a hardened criminal with a sense of honor. Chaney’s ability to transform himself into complex characters with the use of makeup and expressions is on full display in this film. Priscilla Dean’s portrayal of Molly is equally compelling, showcasing her range as an actress.

The film’s title, “Outside the Law,” suggests a world where justice operates differently, and morality is fluid. It delves into the gray areas of right and wrong, making it a thought-provoking narrative that was typical of the crime dramas of the silent era.

The film’s direction by Tod Browning is notable for its gritty portrayal of the criminal underworld and its characters. Browning would go on to direct other successful silent films and later collaborate with Lon Chaney on iconic works like “The Unholy Three” and “The Unknown.”

“Outside the Law” is also significant in the context of early cinema due to its exploration of strong female characters. Molly Madden is a complex protagonist who defies traditional gender roles, and her struggles and choices are central to the film’s narrative. This was a departure from some of the more passive female characters that were prevalent in silent films of the time.

The film’s cinematography captures the atmospheric and moody settings of San Francisco’s Chinatown and the criminal hideouts. It creates a visually compelling backdrop for the unfolding drama.

In conclusion, “Outside the Law” is a noteworthy film of the silent era, known for its exploration of morality, complex characters, and the talents of its cast and crew. It remains a testament to the creativity and innovation of early filmmakers in telling compelling stories without the use of dialogue. The film’s themes of love, betrayal, and redemption continue to resonate with audiences, making it a valuable part of cinematic history.

Release Date: December 26th, 1920

Main Cast Members

Priscilla Dean (Molly Madden)

Wheeler Oakman (‘Dapper Bill’ Ballard)

Lon Chaney (Ah Wing / ‘Black Mike’ Sylva)

Ralph Lewis (‘Silent’ Madden)

E. Alyn Warren (Chang Lo)

Melbourne MacDowell (Morgan Spencer)

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