Numerous sources have listed films in Lon Chaney filmographies that he most likely did not appear in. Some of these are incorrectly listed under working titles, others had incorrect advanced publicity from the studios, while many appear to be simply the result of a bad memory, since many of the titles listed (most from Forrest J. Ackerman's Lon of 1000 Faces) simply were never produced under the titles listed. It is safe to say that there were no films starring Chaney made after about 1918 that we don't know about, so I have concentrated my search in the teens.
Titles incorrectly reported to have featured Chaney are summarized below. Unless otherwise mentioned below, Universal released no film with this title, no such title was submitted for Copyright registration in the U.S., and I can find no other record that any film was released in the U.S. with this title during the silent era.
The Altar of Friendship
Birch is Soft
Black Shadows. Films by this name were released in 1920 by William Fox and in 1923 by Pathe, and this was a serial chapter title of The Social Bucanner released by Universal in 1922. It is highly unlikely that Chaney appeared in any of these productions.
Bondage. This 1917 Universal/Bluebird Photoplays 5-reel release was directed by Ida May Park, and featured the Bluebird stock company including Dorothy Phillips, Gretchen Lederer, Gertrude Astor, William Stowell, Jean Porter, J. B. McLaughlin, and Eugene Owen. Nearly every reference book lists Chaney as being a cast member in this film, yet there is no evidence to support that claim. The formal documents submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office do not list Chaney in the cast, nor do the cast lists submitted to trade publications such as Moving Picture World. None of the reviews of the time mention Chaney. Recent texts attribute Chaney to the role of "the seducer," but reviews of the time confirm that this part was played by J. B. McLaughlin. How this enormous piece of misinformation began is a mystery.
A photo from Bondage
The Deaf Mute Talks
Girl in the Rain A 5-reel title by this name was released in 1920 by Universal and starred Ann Cornwall and James Farley. Chaney is not listed in the cast and by this time was a big enough star that he clearly would have been credited.
The Girl Who Dared. A 1920 picture with Louis Glaum was released by Republic Distributing Corp. and does not have Chaney in the cast.
The Girl Who Was Afraid to Love
In the Service of the King. Chaney supposedly directed this film, but there is no evidence that any such picture was ever released and Universal certainly released no such film.
Just Ask Harry
Kick In. A 1916 Pathe serial by this name starred John Boyle and Mollie King. Chaney is not listed in the cast and it is highly unlikely that he appeared in it unbilled. There was also a Paramount release in 1922 with this name, and Chaney does not appear in the cast.
The King's Keeper
My Uncle He...
One Million in Jewels
Partners of the Night. A 1920 Goldwyn release by this title featured Vincent Coleman, William Davidson, William Ingersoll, Pinna Nesbit, and others. Chaney was working for Goldwyn in 1920, but following the success of THE PENALTY was fairly well known and a star name, so it is inconceivable that he appeared in this picture unbilled.
The Peddler. Some sources list this as a title directed by Chaney. There is a 1913 version made at Keystone and starring Ford Sterling that is clearly not a Chaney film. There is also a 1917 version made by U.S. Amusement Corp directed by Herbert Blache that also does not have Chaney listed in the cast.
Public Enemy #5
The Return of John Justing (or Justin?)
The Scarlet Letter. There are numerous screen versions of the Hawthorne classic including a 1911 Universal/Imp release, a 1917 Fox release, a 1920 Selznick release, and the classic 1926 MGM version with Lillian Gish. Given the dates and the production companies, it is highly unlikely that Chaney appeared in any of these versions.
The Service of the Sword. "Lon Cheney" (sic) supposedly appeared in this 1915 Universal release. There is no record indicating that Universal ever released such a film under this title. By March of 1915 Universal was filing copyright notices on all of their films, and no such title was copyrighted by them.
The Sheriff of Long Butte (1915)
The Strange Mind. It is possible that someone confused this with The Stronger Mind (1915)
Suspense (1913) Lon Chaney has long been cited as appearing very briefly in this Lois Weber Universal/Rex release by many film scholars, including me. A brief shot of a hobo on the road does appear to be Chaney, but after close examination of a high quality print, it is pretty clear that the individual is not Chaney.
Two screen shots from Suspense
The Tribe of Traitor
Ways of Fate. There was a 1913 release by this title produced by American; almost certainly not with Chaney, although it was directed by Allan Dwan. Wouldn't it be interesting if Chaney worked at a studio other than Universal in 1913!!!
Some of the above films could possibly be Chaney titles, but released with working titles, or re-released with alternate titles. A few of the titles below have sometimes appeared in various Chaney filmographies, but simply represent alternate or reissue titles of other films that did feature Chaney.
Shawn the Piper is an alternate spelling of Shon the Piper (1913).
Wolfbreed and The Mask appear to be alternate titles for The Trap(1913).
Warrington's Honor was the working title of Red Margaret, Moonshiner (1913), which in turn appears to have been reissued as Moonshine Blood.
Carlotta the Bead Stringer and The Menace of Carlotta are alternate working titles for The Menace to Carlotta (1914).
The Web of Circumstance was the working title of The Forbidden Room (1914).
Her Chance is the reissue title of The Girl of the Night (1915)
The Girl Who Couldn't Go Wrong was the working title of When the Gods Played a Badger Game (1915).
On the Verge of Sin was the release title for The Grind (1915) in the United Kingdom.
Love Thine Enemy was the working title of The Grip of Jealousy (1916)
The Full Cup was the working title of The Gilded Spider (1916)
By Fate's Decree was the working title of The Mark of Cain (1916)
Mansion of Despair was the working title of The Place Beyond the Winds (1916)
The Wrong Side of Paradise is the working title of Hell Morgan's Girl (1917).
The Rose of the Night, The Gutter Rose, The Rose of the Dark, and The Gutter Bride were all working titles of The Wicked Darling (1919).
The Lone Wolf was the working title for The False Faces (1919).
The Night Rose and Flower of Darkness were both working titles for Voices of the City (1922), and the film was even copyrighted and released under The Night Rose before the name was finally changed.
Heart of a Wolf is the working title for The Trap (1922).
The Light of Faith is a 3-reel cutdown reissue of The Light in the Dark (1922).
The Octave of Cladius is sometimes reported to be the working title of A Blind Bargain (1922), and that is the title of the novel the film was based on, although there is no good evidence that this was ever used as a working title of the film.
The Glory of Love was the working title of While Paris Sleeps (1923).
Bittersweet was the working title of The Shock (1923)
Terror was the working title of Mockery (1927).
© 2003,2017 Jon C. Mirsalis
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