The Penalty (film)

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For works with similar titles, see The Penalty.
The Penalty  (1920) 
by Wallace Ashley Worsley
An American 1920 silent crime/drama film starring Lon Chaney, based upon the pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris IV.
Key (info)
In scene

Adapted from his famous novel


Produced By

Samuel Goldwyn,





A victim of the city traffic.

It was young Dr. Ferris' first serious case.

. . . Charles Clary

The injured child is still unconscious of his fate.

"I dared not wait any longer."

"I amputated both legs above the knee."

"There is a contusion at the base of the skull."

"Good God! You should not have amputated!"

"You've mangled this poor child for life."

"His father and mother—"

"My poor boy, I'll do what I can for you."

"I shall lie for you, and may God forgive me."

"Only immediate amputation could save your child's life."

"I heard them say——"

"He imagines he heard us. It's the effect of the ether."

"He lies! He lies!"

Twenty-seven years later—San Francisco is the richest city in the western world.

She has one hideous blemish——


The Barbary Coast.



Barbary Nell.

. . . Doris Pawn

Frisco Pete.

. . . James Mason

Blizzard——lord and master of the underworld.



Lichtenstein, of the Federal Secret Service.

. . . Milton Ross

Mr. Lichtenstein

Rose, his most daring operative.

. . . Ethel Grey Terry

"Rose, this detail I'm offering you is so dangerous—I hope you'll turn it down."

"It's always Blizzard—that cripple from Hell."

"Do you remember sweet Barbary Nell who wandered from our fold?"

"She's dead!"

"I could get him for theft, arson, murder——but his criminal machine would still grind on."

"Through the Master I must reach his slaves—the underground powers of the Reds."

"He's gathered up his dance hall girls and he's put them to work in his house—making hats—thousands of hats."

"I must know why!"

"I believe Blizzard is hatching something so big, it endangers the city."

"I must find out what!"

"By the way, Barbary Nell, who strayed from us, new sleeps upon a marble slab——"

"——in the morgue."

Blizzard's favorite for the moment.

"A woman who enters that den risks worse than death."

"That's all in the day's work."

"——and I shall walk as men walk."

"I shall be the master of a city!"

"And for my mangled years the city shall pay me——"

"——with the pleasures of a Nero and the powers of a Caesar!"

"But you wont' live to see it——if you don't pedal better."

"It means living in that devil's house till you find out what he's up to."

"Of course. Well, I'm game."

Dr. Ferris, now the most famous surgeon in his line.

. . . Charles Clary

2 to 4 P.M.
7 to 8 P.M.

Are requested
to leave the Hospital
before 8 45 P.M.

Dr. Wilmot Allen, his assistant.

. . . Kenneth Harlan

Blizzard has agents in strange places.

"Barbara asked me to call for her."

The surgeon's daughter, Barbara, had dedicated herself to Art.

. . . Claire Adams

"I'm dreadfully discouraged."

"I've done nothing worth while."

"Some day she'll realize that this is all nonsense."

"Sorry you have to go."

"Haven't I waited long enough? Why don't you chuck it, Barbara?"

"Not until I've done at least one thing that is worth doing."

"And I'm going to do 'Satan—after the fall'."

"If I fail——"

"——I'll marry you."

Nothing to report.

Blizzard keeps plans
to himself. His people
obey orders, not knowing
their meaning.

My knowledge of music
has been my protection.
He likes my pedalling.


"Rose has been there a week—and she's learning nothing."

"You're a find!"

"You aren't afraid of me—you look me in the eyes."

"How could I be afraid—when you play like that?"

"You're a find!"


WANTED—Man with auto to solicit for
cigars and tobacco. Bring references.
187 Market St. 9224

WANTED—Model to pose for statue of
"Satan After the Fall." If you think
you look like Satan, apply at studio of
Barbara Ferris, 32 Institute Place. 8284

WANTED—Young man to learn the drug
business; must come well recommended
and be willing to work. 133 Sonoma
Boulevard. 8496

"Be in front of that studio tomorrow and see that no applicant but myself enters it."

"Everything comes to him who waits."

"You've mangled this poor child for life."

"Do I look like Satan?"

"Before I am through with her and her father, they'll think I'm the devil himself."

9 A. M.——Barbara's Studio at 32 Institute Place.

"Model already engaged."

Bubbles, a street waif whom Barbara has befriended.

Whenever Blizzard was absent, Rose hunted for clues.

"Some excellent judges think that I resemble Satan."

"If there is enough of me."

"I seem to please."

"I knew about him when I was bummin' the streets—cut-throad's his middle name."

"You oughtn't to touch him with a pole."

"Gawd! Look at that face!"

"If I could catch that expression in the clay—I'd be famous."

"How do you happen to know so much about Art?"

"My father, who shall be nameless, was a distinguished man."

"But he detested little boys with their legs clipped off. So at fifteen I hobbled out of his life."

"I could write a better treatise on sculpture myself."

"Why do you live in the underworld?"

"When Satan fell from Heaven he looked for power in Hell."

Hugely satisfied with his morning's work.

"Rose, my dear!"

"Under the piano, my darling—we'll have some music."

"I have a feeling I shall waft you into Heaven."

"A death song, Rose!"

"Rose was my best bet——so far she's learned nothing."

"I couldn' have played that way without your help."

"Go back to your work—I can murder anything but music."

Days passed and the clay grew into the image of the man who was like Satan——

Into a face clothed with evil intent.

In time the man would mangle the soul of the daughter, even as the father had mangled the body of the man.

The end of this pass-
age is barred by a
gate, but through it
I could see what
appears to be a large

of the world.
But the most remarquable
of all is a fully-equipped
operating room.


"If you say it's good, I know it's good."

But she hesitated, for this would mean the end of Blizzard.

"I know of Dr. Allen—and of this great master, Dr. Ferris."

"I will come tomorrow at the same time."

"What an admirable pair of legs."

"I give mine to science."

"That monster ought to be chloroformed and put out of the way."

"He shows me only courtesy and helpfulness."

Doctor Ferris investigates.

"May I talk with Mr. Blizzard alone?"

"I have followed every step of your carrer, and you have indeed profited by your early mistakes."

"You were the child whose life I ruined?"

"Don't let that trouble you too deeply."

"It is now in your power to repair your error."

"Command me in any way. . . But don't come here any more."

"Only your daughter's request can keep me away. She is making a masterpiece."

"Barbara, let me tell you a story."

"He lies! He didn't have to cut them off."

"Behind his visits there is some sinister motive. I can read it in his eyes."

"If you have made him what he is, it is all the more our duty to help him."

"Blizzard's man, O'Hagan, is back in town."

"He has organized thousands of disgruntled foreign laborers."

"Hats and men—what's the devil up to?"

Blizzard's chief lieutenant, O'Hagan.

"You have worked in the dark long enough——this is the plan I have been developing for two years."


"At twelve noon on that day I shall loot the City of San Francisco."

"Your ten thousand foreign malcontents will filter into the city in small detachments."

"The signal will be an explosion."


"By fire and riots I shall draw the police and military into the suburbs."

"The heart of the city will be left defenseless—ours to loot at will."




"And then we shall vanish with our treasure."

"You talk as if you had legs! By God! You've gone mad!"

"Perhaps—but with the madness that succeeds!"

"Better come out of that closet or I'll begin to shoot!"

"Crying won't help—talking may."

"What's the use——you're going to kill me anyhow."

"I doubt it—you're the best pedaler I ever had."

curios from all parts
of the world.
But the most remarkable
of all is a fully-equipped
operating room.


"You see, you haven't been allowed to do much damage."

"I think I'm glad."

"Don't you see?"


With exultation he felt the power that his mind was gaining over Barbara.

"You are the best critic in the world."

"Live your own life—go where I shall point—to your place among the stars."

"How am I ever going to thank you for the help you have given me?"

"When you have finished that, don't give me up."

"I love you, Barbara, with my whole heart and soul."

At her laugh his Hell-born passions broke loose.

But almost instantly he knew that he had blundered——

"——and like a good general tried to retrieve his mistake."

"I am the unhappiest beast in the world."

"Forgive me for having dared to lift my thoughts to you."

"Laughter burns a cripple like acid."

"I don't know why I laughed. You frightened me."

"Will you forgive me?"

"I've come to prescribe a little drive, Barbara."

"Call me a cab."

"True women need love, a home, children. He has made you forget that."

"I'll marry you, dear, whenever you wish."

After a night of jealous fury, the Beast takes action.

"Hello, Doctor, this is Bubbles."

"It's about Miss Barbara—she's gone to Blizzard's house."

"I don't know why she went. She was cryin'."


Dr. T. Ferris
Dr. W. Allen

"He'll run all the way—on those magnificent legs."

"Once before a woman surfeited me with her caresses."

"She's dead."

"Rose just shows herself at the window and nods—and that's all."

"Where is Miss Ferris?"

"She is probably in her room."

"Shall I search your house, or will you take me to her?"

"Listen, my baffled hero——if you wish the lady to go free—"

"—you must hand over to me your superb legs."

"Dr. Ferris will cut them off for you."

"Then he will graft them to me."

"They will be very becoming."

"Your daughter is in my house. She has been hurt. Come at once."

"That fairy tale about your daughter was merely to make certain that you'd come."

"You've played the trick with apes—now I'm putting human beings at your service."

"Your victim is fulfilling destiny in making you the master surgeon of the world."

"You must make it possible—unless you would have your charming daughter married to these."

"Out of my house isn't out of my power——that's here."

"Suppose you and your assistant should disappear—then your daughter and I——"

"Give me legs and I will be a model son-in-law."

"Then I'll be a tower of strength—I'll be a Ceasar!"

"You're right—you'd be a superman. I'll do it!"

Doctor Ferris' sudden decision to operate brought about startling results.

"I've waked from a terrible dream!"

"I was a devil——I did things that I shudder to think of!"

"What's happened——you didn't do what he wanted?"

"That was a madman's request——I operated on his head."

"There is a contusion at the base of the skull."

"That caused pressure on the brain—he has never been wholly responsible for his acts."

"This man, let alone, may become as great a power for good as he was for evil."

"He shall have the chance."

The tyrant's hand relaxed—the whirlwind breaks.

must not take place.
The old Blizzard is no
more. I have assumed
my real name.

In my madness I
built power from evil.
I shall undo my

I am still your
friend, bit it must
be for better things.

"He's got religion—that means he'll raise Hell!"

"How do we know he won't snitch on us?"

"If we don't finish him, he'll finish us."

The New Man——and his wife.

"We shall do great things together."

"Fate chained me to Evil—for that I must pay the Penalty."

"That is a great puzzle. Perhaps I al going to see it solved."

"Don't grieve, dear——death interests me."

"All that's left of him—an evil mask of a great soul."

The End


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

The author died in 1953, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.