This compelling and exceptionally well-executed silent drama features some of MGM's biggest stars: Lon Chaney, John Gilbert and Norma Shearer. It was the first-ever film solely created by MGM and marks the studio’s first use of Leo the Lion. The great Swedish actor/director Victor Sjostrom (best known in the U.S. for playing Professor Borg, the protagonist of Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries),filmed this adaptation of Leonid Andreyev’s acclaimed Russian play during his 1920’s American sojourn.
He Who Gets Slapped is the story of a scientific genius who is humiliated by his philandering wife and by 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 his torment continue?
“Chaney's performance is extraordinary, but the real amazement of the film is Sjöström's direction, incorporating incredibly subtle lighting effects (which are his, not the cameraman's), and perfectly blending its daring Expressionist devices with the horror movie ethos which takes over when the clown finally seeks revenge.” - TimeOut
“At the Capitol this week there is a picture which defies one to write about it without indulging in superlatives. It is a shadow drama so beautifully told, so flawlessly directed that we imagine that it will be held up as a model by all producers.” Mordaunt Hall, New York Times,11/10/24.
(Directed by Victor Sjostrom, United States, 1924 , 85 min., silent, b&w, Unrated)
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