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  Lon Chaney.
Photograph: Silent Era image collection.
Outside the Law
(1920) American
B&W : Eight reels / 7754 feet
Directed by Tod Browning

Cast: Priscilla Dean [Molly ‘Silky Moll’ Madden], Ralph Lewis [‘Silent’ Madden], E.A. Warren [Chang Low], Lon Chaney [‘Black Mike’ Sylva; and Ah Wing], Wheeler Oakman [‘Dapper Bill’ Ballard], Stanley Goethals [the neighbor boy across the hall]; Melbourne MacDowell [Morgan Spencer], Wilton Taylor [police inspector], John George [the dwarf, Sylva’s henchman]

The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated, production; distributed by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [A Universal-Jewel Production De Luxe]. / Produced by Tod Browning. Scenario by Tod Browning and Lucien Hubbard, from a screen story by Tod Browning. Art direction by E.E. Sheeley (Elmer E. Sheeley). Technical consultant, Tom Gubbins. Assistant director, Leo McCarey. Photographed (cinematography) by William Fildew. Subtitles (intertitles) by Gardner Bradford. Art titles (intertitles artwork) by Lewis Lipton and Fred Archer. Presented by Carl Laemmle. / © 25 January 1921 by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [LP16049]. Premiered 26 December 1920 in Los Angeles, California. General release, January 1921. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format. / The film was reedited and rereleased in the USA [?] by Universal Pictures Corporation? in 1926.

Drama: Crime.

Synopsis: Crime boss ‘Silent’ Madden and his daughter ‘Silky Moll’ Madden are friends with legitimate and respected Chinese-American community leader Chang Low, whose influence is slowly shifting the Maddens’ thinking toward reform. Ruthless ‘Black Mike’ Sylva and ‘Dapper Bill’ Ballard are conspiring to frame ‘Silent’ Madden and turn Molly against recent positive influences. When Madden is wounded, shot by Sylva’s gang in Chinatown, he is helped away to safety by Low’s dedicated servant Ah Wing. Meanwhile, Sylva has a gang member plant a gun that has been used to shoot a beat cop and tell the police its location and where the shootist is — framing Madden, who receives a eight-month prison sentence. Sylva then begins to exert his manipulation of Molly, pulling her back into criminal activities, with the plan of double-crossing her.

Survival status: Print exists in the Film Preservation Associates film collection.

Current rights holder: Public domain.

Keywords: Asians - Books - Children - Chinese (Immigrants) - Crime: Frame-ups, Murder, Theft - Death: Murder - Dual roles - Fights - Games: Pool (Poolrooms) - Jewelry - Kites - Police: Arrests, Policemen - Religion: Religious renewal - Transportation: Automobiles, Buses - USA: California: San Francisco (Chinatown) - Weapons: Guns

Listing updated: 19 August 2008.

References: Film credits, film viewing : Edmonds-BigU pp. 69, 70, 97, 112-113; Hirschhorn-Universal p. 36; Marrero-Vintage p. 20; Parish-Gangster pp. 2, 303; Vermilye-Twenties pp. 48-49; Weaver-Twenty p. 76 : Website-AFI.

Home video: DVD.

Silent Era Home Page  >  PSFL  >  Outside the Law (1920)
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