SHADOWS
Starring Lon Chaney, Harrison Ford and Marguerite De La Motte
HARRISON'S REPORTS
November 11, 1922

Now and then a picture is produced that stands out above the others, just as the Woolworth building stands out above all the buildings that surround it. It is such pictures as these that prove beyond any doubt that picture-making is an art. Such a one is "Shadows" - a picture that stands out above all others. With a worth-while theme as it foundation, masterfully directed and artistically acted, with its setting and general atmosphere realistic, the story creates in the mind an impression that lasts many days and weeks after one has seen the picture. Through tragedy, the sad fate of the principal characters does not leave an unpleasant feeling. On the contrary, their fate so arouses the compassion of the spectator that he feels regret for not being able to help relieve their sufferings. The acting of Mr. Chaney, who assumes the role of a Chinaman, is remarkable. Better acting he has never done in his life. Every one of the other players, too, acts well.

The plot has been founded on Wilbur Daniel Steel's novel, "Ching, Ching Chinaman." It revolves around a young minister who marries the widow of a brute sailor that has perished in a storm. Another minister, who had also loved the heroine and lost her to the hero, conspires to bring about a divorce between the couple. Having made the minister believe that the sailor did not perish, he writes letters extorting from the hero-minister money. The hero is heartbroken to think that he should have married the woman he loved while her husband was still alive, and is almost insane with grief to think that he is about to lose her and their child. Unable to account for the peculiarity of his actions, he is eventually compelled to reveal to his wife that her first husband is alive. But the Chinaman, whom the hero and heroine had befriended after he was saved from the terrific storm and washed ashore, suspecting that the villainous minister is playing a trick on the hero, watches him, and eventually discloses the deception, making the villainous minister confess. The Chinaman dies, happy in the thought that his soul will travel back to China. The hero and the heroine with their child are happy, yet sad to lose their loyal friend.


SHADOWS
starring Lon Chaney, Harrison Ford and Marguerite De La Motte
MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE
February, 1923

Wilbur Daniel Steele's prize story, "Ching, Ching, Chinaman," makes a picture which is certain to be accepted as one of the better things under its new title of "Shadows" - principally because of Lon Chaney's eloquent pantomime as a Chink, and the spiritual value of the theme. The locale? A fishing village. The central figures? A young clergyman and his bride, whose first husband made her a widow when he was lost in the angry sea. The motif? The Chinaman's devotion in returning a kind deed. He watches and waits to unmask the villainy of the disappointed suitor - the pillar of the church who has compelled the youthful domine to pay hush money under the threat that he will be exposed as a bigamist. The Chink accepts Christianity when he sees the lesson of faith and humility. Some compelling scenes. But mostly a character study for Chaney who demonstrates his uncanny talent for characterization. Worth seeing. Don't be ashamed of your tears.


SHADOWS
starring Lon Chaney, Harrison Ford, and Marguerite De La Motte
PICTURE PLAY
February, 1923

The Preferred Pictures Corporation started its career under a heavy cloud of hokum called "Rich Men's Wives," and when they announced "Shadows," a film version of the Wilbur Daniel Steele story, "Ching Ching Chinaman," it showed that they had repented. I grieve to record that their act of repentance is dull. It pains me to say this in view of the fact that in this picture Lon Chaney gives a wonderful characterization of a Chinaman. But there is nothing to back him up.

Two men in a little New England village are in love with a girl whose husband has been lost at sea. When she marries one of them, the other schemes to separate them by pretending that her first husband has come back. Eventually, the Chinese laundryman whom the young husband had befriended discloses the plot. And it did seem as though he might have done it sooner.


Video source: Kino, Movies Unlimited, Critic's Choice, Facets

For more information, see "Shadows" as our "Feature of the Month"

Return to reviews page