The Wicked Darling + Dollar Down
Thursday, March 23
VenueWalter Reade Theater
The March 19 screening will be presented with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin. The March 23 screening will be presented as a silent screening.
The Wicked Darling
Tod Browning, 1919, USA, 59m
Dutch intertitles with English subtitles
Flashes of Browning’s sophisticated visual sense enliven this briskly entertaining gutter melodrama starring Priscilla Dean and Lon Chaney—the first of Chaney’s 10 collaborations with the director—as a pair of pickpockets at odds over a stolen pearl necklace whose rightful owner (Wellington Playter) becomes the object of Dean’s affection. Shot almost entirely at night in flophouses, saloons, and alleyways, The Wicked Darling imparts a particularly bleak perspective of city life and its outré inhabitants, among them a ghostly Spottiswoode Aitken and pro wrestler Kalla Pasha, who fit perfectly into Browning’s oddly unsettled milieu. This film also established Dean as a new kind of film heroine, the alluring criminal who makes a turnabout in the final reel (see Outside the Law, Drifting). Courtesy of Eye Filmmuseum.
Tod Browning, 1925, USA, 35mm, 60m
Just before he propelled the crime melodrama to new, macabre heights in The Unholy Three, Browning directed this partially lost morality tale pertaining to a different kind of horror: that of a middle-class family living beyond their means and falling prey to moneylenders. Produced by and starring Ruth Roland for FBO Studios, a small operation that later became RKO Pictures, Dollar Down follows Roland as the spendthrift daughter of a manufacturing firm’s general manager (Henry Walthall), who pawns a ring purchased on credit to throw an extravagant party and sends the family’s livelihood into a tailspin. Because its last reel completely disintegrated before it could be copied, the film remains an ultra-rare curio that nonetheless captures an important chapter in Browning’s career before his successful string of films made for MGM. 35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.