blind bargain

A Blind Bargain

A Blind Bargain is a 1922 silent horror film starring Lon Chaney and Raymond McKee, released through Goldwyn Pictures. It was directed by Wallace Worsley and is based on Barry Pain's 1897 novel, The Octave of Claudius. It is considered a lost film.

Critical response for the film was good, most praising Lon Chaney's dual performance as the mad doctor and his servant as being the highlight of the picture.


The film is a contemporary (1920s) picture that takes place in New York City. The story involves a mad scientist who turns circumstances on a young man to do his bidding.

Robert Sandell (Raymond McKee), despondent over his ill luck as a writer, and his mother's declining health, attacks and attempts to rob a theatergoer, Dr. Lamb (Lon Chaney), a sinister, fanatical physician living in the suburbs of New York. Lamb takes the boy to his home, learns his story, and agrees to perform an operation on Mrs. Sandell (Virginia True Boardman) on one consideration - that Robert shall at the end of eight days, deliver himself to the doctor to do with as he will, for experimental purposes, Frantic with worry over his dying mother's condition, Robert agrees.

Mother and son take up their residence in the Lamb home, where Robert is closely watched, not only by the doctor, but by his wife (Fontaine La Rue), and a grotesque hunchback (Lon Chaney, in a dual role), whom Robert learns afterwards is the result of one of the doctor's experiments.

Dr. Lamb, anxious to keep his hold on Robert, not only give him freely of spending money, but assists him in having his book published through Wytcherly, head of a publishing company. Robert meets Wytcherly's daughter, Angela (Jacqueline Logan) and promptly falls in love.

In the meantime, the days are slipping by to the time of the experiment. Robert has been warned by Mrs. Lamb and the hunchback that great danger threatens him. At dawn, they show him as a warning a mysterious underground vault in which is a complete operating room and a tunnel of cages in which are strange prisoners - previously failed experiment of Lamb's. In agony and fear, Robert goes to the physician and tries to buy himself out of the bargain - for his book has been published, and he is now a successful writer. There is yet one day before the time limit is up, but the doctor, realizing his victim may try to escape, seizes him, and straps him to the operating table. He is rescued by Mrs. Lamb, and the hunchback releases a cage door and the doctor is himself brought to a horrible end at the hands of an ape-man wrecked mentally by the doctor's experiments.

Finally freed from the terms of his "blind bargain", Robert returns to his home to learn that his writings have met with success and that Angela awaits for him at the marriage ceremony.


Based on Barry Pain's novel, The Octave of Claudius, A Blind Bargain tied together horrific elements that Lon Chaney Sr. became so well known for. His characterizations of both Dr. Lamb and the hunchback assistant showcased Chaney's talent for makeup.

For the finale, the ape-man that is released upon Dr. Lamb was played by Wallace Beery, in a cameo performance.

The film was released December 3, 1922 at the Capitol Theater in New York, and met with a standing ovation the opening night of the film.

Preservation and technical specifications

Today, the film is considered lost. The original negative was destroyed in 1931 by MGM after the takeover of Goldwyn Studios, and the last print is believed to have perished in the same fire in Vault #7 in 1965 that took out London After Midnight.

The footage count in the film was 4152 feet. The film was tinted and toned various colors, including blue tone/flesh tint, blue tint, night amber, straw amber, light lavender, green tint, and one sequence at a party was stencil colored using the Handschiegl Color Process, in multi-coloring bubbles that were made during a ballet.

Cast (in credits order)

  • Lon Chaney ... Dr. Arthur Lamb/The Ape Man
  • Raymond McKee ... Robert Sandell
  • Virginia True Boardman ... Mrs. Sandell
  • Aggie Herring ... Bessie
  • Virginia Madison ... Angela's Mother

Rest of cast listed alphabetically

  • Fontaine La Rue ... Mrs. Lamb
  • Jacqueline Logan ... Angela Marshall
  • Wallace Beery ... Beast man (uncredited)

External links

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