Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Next to Phantom of the Opera, I would say this was Lon Chaney's best work, both from a character perspective and as his reputation of "Man of a Thousand Faces." Cheney plays Blizzard, a double amputee who is the crime kingpin of San Francisco. The opening scenes, set in a young surgeon's home/dispensary, show that as a child, he sustained injuries in a traffic accident that led to the young doctor mistakenly choosing to amputate both his legs above the knees. When an older physician colleague arrives, he takes one look in the pan that contains the child's legs and pronounces the young surgeon never should have amputated. (My one snide aside is that is a pretty tall stretch of surgical pathology to do that without dissecting them, but hey, it IS a movie...)

The boy awakens from his unconsciousness and overhears this conversation and the statement that the older doctor will lie for the younger one upon the arrival of the parents. When his parents arrive, he insists that the doctors are lying, but the older surgeon says, "It's the ether. He's imagining it."

We then fast forward to Blizzard's adulthood and are given a glimpse of his vast empire of crime. The movie centers around his relationship with Rose, a police informant sent to spy on him by becoming part of his crime network, and Barbara, who we later discover is the daughter of Dr. Ferris, the surgeon who mangled him. Without getting too far into spoiling the plot, Blizzard and Dr. Ferris meet again, and Blizzard coerces him into an act that ultimately allows Ferris to atone for his mistake...with unexpected results.

Chaney is nothing short of amazing in his portrayal of a double amputee. In order to play the part, he had to bind his legs behind him and walk on his knees--a position in which he could only stand to be in for ten minutes at a time, and caused permanent muscle damage to his legs. Some film historians say that part of what was transmitted as the "evil looks" of Blizzard are actually some of the physical pain Chaney actually felt to play this part.

In order to not scare the audience into thinking Lon Chaney actually lost his legs, the original film showed him walking down a staircase after the credits. This footage was lost, unfortunately.

My only beef about this film is that the musical score has been updated into this sort of "techno-gloom" music. I think I would have preferred something closer to the original music score, but it still did not detract from the story.

This film absolutely captivates me in its juxtaposition of good and evil; it is a reminder that all that is "good" has a dark side in this world; and all that is "evil", but for a twist of fate or two, could have been "good." An interesting use of metaphor is that Blizzard meets Barbara by answering an ad for a sculptor's model in which she intends to sculpt a bust of Satan. She creates with clay a model of the darkness that lives within Blizzard himself.

The other part of this movie that captivates me is the notion that Dr. Farris redeems his past transgression to a degree, in a way not expected, and in a way that gives Blizzard a chance at a new life.

What this movie got me to pondering is now literally, ONE event can change the paths of our lives from good to evil, or from evil to good. That people or things we think as "bad" or "hopeless" may have started on that path by one good or bad break. That the awareness of these windows is crucial to our spiritual growth.

I think back now and then and realize there are many, many times in my life God set "that one thing" in my path to stop and take notice, or sent "that one person who would be key in me changing my behavior" in my life's timeline. Had I not been open, had I not been aware, I would have missed a key chance to have made a significant life change. I thank God for those people and those things. I need to learn to pray for those opportunities to present themselves to others. I need to pray that if I am the "one" to be set before someone else to make a change in their life, that I am aware and willing enough to rise to the task.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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