Where East Is East - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Where East Is East Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2017
"Where East is East" is another entertaining and somewhat disturbing film from Director Tod Browning and Lon Chaney, this one set in Asia. Chaney plays a wild animal trainer whose daughter (Lupe Vélez) falls in love with a young man (Lloyd Hughes). After some initial reluctance, Chaney supports their intended marriage, but then trouble comes in the form of Madame de Sylva (Estelle Taylor), an Asian seductress. As she moves in on Hughes, we find out she's actually Chaney's old wife and Vélez's mother, who abandoned them long ago. A disturbing love triangle is thus formed between a young man and a mother and her daughter. Chaney snarls and is and tries to protect his daughter, compelling as always, but it's the women who steal this show. Vélez is a bundle of energy and plays her part with a touching innocence and charm, and Taylor absolutely lights up the screen from the moment she appears - her face and hair are just stunning. The two of them and a macabre (if a bit contrived) ending easily make this a film worth watching.

Some notes of interest in the personal lives of the cast: Chaney would sadly die just one year later, and Vélez and Taylor would become such close friends that it would be Taylor at Vélez's side the night she committed suicide 15 years later.

Also, some notes on the subject of race, always a lightning rod in watching these old films: It's disappointing that none of the principal Asian roles are played by Asians, Asian countries and cultures are muddled together, and Asian characters are shown butchering basic grammar even when they should be speaking in their native languages to one another. On the other hand, Browning doesn't play to other stereotypes, wisely doesn't attempt to make Taylor or Vélez look "more Asian" with garish make-up, knowing it would be ridiculous (see Renee Adoree in 1927's Mr. Wu, among others), and also includes three lines in correct Chinese, as opposed to putting up a hodgepodge of nonsensical characters. (And interestingly enough, he doesn't even translate those lines into English.) Not bad, especially for 1929.
November 10, 2014
chaney/browning collabs the first talkie
September 15, 2013
An interesting Browning/Chaney picture. Not what one expects from those two. Not amazing but not terrible.
August 20, 2011
Cute silent dramedy.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2011
Not much reason to see this one. Surprisingly, Lon Chaney and director Tod Browning barely distinguish themselves -- the film is more about Estelle Taylor's smoldering glare and a squat guy in a gorilla suit.

A hint of horror creeps into the final act, but the crucial scene is so brief that I wonder if "lost" footage could be a factor.
August 14, 2011
another creepy good melodrama from this pair and one of the last silent movies made.
July 1, 2011
As a strange love triangle, this ranks with the previous Browning-Chaney film The Unknown. Estelle Taylor actually steals the movie from Chaney as the wicked seductress.
½ April 8, 2011
Surprisingly good melodrama with Lon Chaney trying to fend off his predatory ex-wife from their daughter's betrothed. Lupe Velez was maybe a little old to play the spirited daddy's girl, but everyone really throws themselves into their roles. Tod Browning is shocking capable as co-writer and director, staging a number of exotic animal pieces and filling scenes with Asian extras. Chaney is excellent, repeatedly shifting from hard-boiled master of man-killers to overprotective father to vengeful cuckold as the story requires. The last and not least of the Browning/Chaney collaborations.
December 3, 2010
Lon Chaney's final pairing with director Tod Browning isn't a masterpiece on the level of some of their other collaborations, but it's a solid silent melodrama complete with Browning's exotic atmospherics and lurid psychological subtext. It's not as dark and twisted as their other efforts, Chaney is surprisingly subdued this time around, it's Estelle Taylor as a culturally questionable by modern standards seductress who steals the show.
October 8, 2010
"The Graduate" copied this whole movie! ...except for the gorilla mauling.
May 18, 2009
A humanly lurid tale with incestuous undertones. The film doesn't do too terribly much to further the causes of either women or Asians, but I've seen far worse portrayals of both. This is actually a pretty compelling melodrama with Chaney alternately performing in broad strokes and showing some nuanced tenderness. Seeing it in a theater with live piano accompaniment bumped the rating up a notch.
March 22, 2009
This isn't as awesome as The Unholy Three or The Unknown (though awesomely enough it also has a genius scene where a giant gorilla attacks someone like in The Unholy Three), but it is as every bit as wonderfully lurid. I mean Lon Chaney plays an animal tamer who is a bit too protective of his daughter who he, uh, kisses on the lips and "role plays" as an animal with her. Even goofier, the daughter is going to marry a man who is sexually obsessed with her mother. Chaney scowls overly expressively throughout and the film doesn't have a wasted scene at a brief 65 minutes. While I know there can never be another Lon Chaney, I do think something has been lost with sound cinema: the big, expressive emotions, which totally enthrall you in a basic way (pre-psychological identification with a character) that makes cinema about the human face. Chaney's face is unrequited love, pain, anger, sorrow, obsession, and madness all wrapped into one; yet, in this film and The Unknown he also never fails to be sympathetic.
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