He Who Gets Slapped

1924

He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

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Movie Info

This compelling and exceptionally well-executed silent drama, from new MGM studio executives Irving Thalburg and producer Louis B. Mayer is based on a highly-regarded Russian play and features the studio's biggest stars, Lon Chaney, John Gilbert and Norma Shearer. Directed by noted Swedish filmmmaker Victor Sjostrom, it is the story of a scientific genius who is humiliated by his philandering wife and a major career set-back. To express his pain, bitterness and anger he becomes a circus clown who seems to enjoy the frequently cruel slapstick antics of his new colleagues. While in the circus, he finds a chance at renewal when he falls for a lovely bareback rider. But will he at last find happiness? Or will tragedy continue to be his closest companion?

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Critic Reviews for He Who Gets Slapped

All Critics (2)

A subdued Chaney offers one of his greatest performances.

Jun 4, 2007 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Chaney, um dos grandes atores do período, cria um personagem trágico e memorável, mas o roteiro é excessivamente simples do ponto de vista dramático, o que atrapalha o filme.

Oct 19, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for He Who Gets Slapped

Based on a play from Russian author Leonid Andreyev, 'He Who Gets Slapped' has some very dark themes - humiliation, adultery, betrayal, exploitation, and sadistic glee at someone else's expense. Lon Chaney stars as a scientist who early on suffers in two ways: his discoveries are stolen by his benefactor (Marc McDermott), and then his wife (Ruth King) tells him she's leaving him for the same scoundrel. Humiliated in public and private by being slapped and laughed at, he retreats from his life and takes up a career as a clown. His act? Being slapped and abused by 60 other clowns, much to the merriment of the audience. (Of course!) It's a kind of ridiculous plot device to get him into this position, and then for his benefactor to cross paths with him five years later, but if you can suspend disbelief, you'll probably enjoy the film for its performances. You see some of the worst of human behavior shown in unflinching ways, and Chaney is the perfect guy for the part. He's fantastic, and to see him dressed up as a pathetic, bitter clown is something else. The film also includes Norma Shearer early in her career (just 22 years old); she plays a new performer to the circus. She begins having romantic feelings for her fellow horseman (John Gilbert), and there is a lovely scene of them out on a picnic, the charm of which helps lighten the tone of the movie. Shearer is so pretty that she also attracts Chaney (who we feel sorry for), and McDermott (who we hiss at). Love and self-sacrifice are the best of human behavior, and provide a counterbalance to the rest of the film. Another aspect I found interesting was that it reminded me of a couple of Chaney's later films in the 1920's that I had seen before, both directed by Tod Browning. 'The Unknown' (1927) also takes place in a circus, and in one of its best scenes, features Chaney's horror and angst to being laughed at. 'Where East is East' (1929) also features 'murder by using a wild animal', though in that film, it was a gorilla, and here, it's a lion. It's interesting that these themes were recycled, and perhaps a testament to the power of their darkness.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

the story is wack but lon chaney rules

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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