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"A Scream in the Night" - Oriental Crime Adventure
released on July 29, 1943
The Actors: Lon Chaney Jr. (Policeman Jack Wilson and Grog Shop owner Frank 'Butch' Curtain), Zarah Tazil (Mora), John Ince (Joe Bentley), Manuel Lopez (Johnny Fly), Richard Cramer (Inspector Green), Sheila Terry (Edith Bentley), Merrill McCormick (money lender Jalla), Philip Ahn (Wu Ting), John Lester Johnson (John), Ed Carey (henchman), Buck Morgan (barfly)
The Unforgettable Monster
Lon Chaney Jr. was the son of legendary silent screen actor Lon Chaney, and is best remembered as the Wolf man and the Mummy in classic horror pictures. When he was growing up he father told him that his mother was dead and it was only after his father's death that he discovered his birth mother. His father tried mightily to keep his son from becoming an actor, and Lon Chaney Jr. became a businessman in a home appliance company. He had acting in his blood though, and after his father died he started acting in motion pictures, using the makeup techniques he had learned as a child while watching his father. He never achieved the great acting reputation that his father had, and he found himself working in more and more low-budget action movies like this one. He had a reputation of being drunk and disorderly often on the movie lots . . . . One famous actor said that he and Broderick Crawford were nicknamed 'the monsters' on the movie studio lots because of their penchant for getting drunk together and often creating chaos that led to injury. I'm not sure if the bad behavior caused his fall from the ranks of the great actors, or if it was the result of never getting the great movie parts that his father got. Lon Chaney Jr. died in 1973 at the age of 67 and his body was dissected and studied by medical students. His liver and lungs were preserved and shown for many years as examples of what alcohol and tobacco abuse would do to a person. There was never any grave or other resting place for the actor who wanted to be as famous as his father, and the only remembrance of him today is a star marker on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame. In this crime adventure that takes place in the orient he displays his ability to change his appearance, voice and acting skills by playing the part of the police detective in search of notorious jewel thief Johnny Fly, and the low-life bar owner Butch Curtain, henchman for the jewel thief. In an on-camera treat, we get to watch the clean-shaved Lon Chaney Jr. disguising himself as the bar owner Butch, while talking to himself across the table. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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2014 was an exciting year for me, and I want to say thank you to every visitor that enjoys these old movies as much as I do. Four years ago I found myself with the knowledge to create nice web pages, along with a stack of old public domain movies that I owned and enjoyed. I decided to share them with the world . . . I thought that the 150 or so movies that I had collected were all the public domain movies in existence, but soon discovered more, and with good research and the help of the internet I am still discovering lost classics to share. Thanks to the amazing people at the Dream Network I am able to share more than 2,000 almost forgotten classics, with many more sitting on my shelf waiting their turn to be added to this web site. In 2014 the number of friends visiting the site and enjoying the movies tripled, and I am very grateful. One day in 2014 I got an e-mail note from Sir Robert Rietty, a British actor and voice-over specialist who wanted to thank me for sharing movies featuring himself and his famous acting teacher father Victor Rietti. We became e-mail friends, and I was able to find even more of his movies that were in public domain and share them with him and you, and Sir Robert was gracious enough to share behind-the-scenes stories about some of his experiences. I have also been honored to meet and become friends with Canadian director Rex Bromfield, a longtime friend of Richard Burton. Rex shared two experiences with Burton that have never been made public before, and I shared them with you in my reviews of the 1973 Welsh productions starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Divorce His and the sequel Divorce Hers. I was also fortunate in discovering Adrian, a film collector in England, and I have been able to purchase many old British films that I, and indeed most folk outside Britain have never seen or heard of. It appears that 2015 will be the year of British Classics thanks to Adrian. I cannot describe with words how much joy I am enjoying while building this web site and sharing the movies that I love with the rest of the world. Thank you all for sharing in my journey and exploring the stories produced during the first years of motion picture history. The past four years have been an incredible journey, but I suspect that the best is yet ahead of us, so stick around and visit often . . . And don't be shy about sending me a note, I cherish every one and respond to all of them.
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