A SCREAM IN THE NIGHT (1935)
Article #965 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-5-2003
Posting Date: 4-3-2004
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer
Featuring Lon Chaney Jr., Sheila Terry, Manuel Lopez
When a valuable jewel is stolen by a notorious thief who engages in strangulation, a detective disguises himself as a grog shop owner to track down the thief.
I don’t know if this was the first attempt to cash in on Lon Chaney Jr.’s father’s name; almost all of his credits up to that point had been as Creighton Chaney, but here he definitely goes as Lon Chaney Jr., and the credits spotlight him as such. I wouldn’t be surprised, though; since he’s playing two roles, one in ugly makeup, it does come across a little as trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, the story is pretty ordinary, and neither of Chaney’s roles are particularly interesting; the detective is a fairly typical bland b-movie leading man role, and he tries a little too hard to be memorable as the deformed grog-shop owner to be really effective. This was before he made either THE WOLF MAN or OF MICE AND MEN, so this was before Hollywood really knew how to make effective use of his talents, but it’s really no surprise that he would remain in minor roles for a while yet. Incidentally, the character’s deformity and Chaney’s presence are the only factors in the movie that would cause it to be classified as horror on any level, so this is another one that belongs in the realms of marginalia.