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In watching this 1927 silent film, I saw why Lon Chaney earned the sobriquet The Man of A Thousand Faces. In the prologue, he plays the grandfather, old Mandarin Wu, and ages over the early part of the film until death. He also plays the title character who ages from a young man at his wedding to presiding over the death of his young bride after giving birth to a daughter to when he becomes a powerful Mandarin himself.

He dotes over his daughter as she grows up. A marriage has been arranged to unite two powerful families. The problem is Wu had raised his daughter not to fear love. She meets a young Englishman and they’ve been meeting in the gardens for months. Though they don’t show it, she’s pregnant with his child.

Wu learns of this when a young peasant spills the beans, seeing them in each mrwuposterother’s arms, earning the harshest consequences in “killing the messenger.”

Now Wu has a problem. In reading texts (for us unenlightened, the Chinese characters are translated), wu sees when a female has been despoiled, honor must be restored by killing his daughter. He or the nearest male relative must do the deed.

Will he do it? Will he seek revenge on the young man? Watch the film.

Lon Chaney could convey so much with just facial expressions. A consummate actor.
Poster - Mr. Wu (1927)_01 (1)

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