The Shock (film)

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For works with similar titles, see The Shock.
The Shock  (1923) 
by Lambert Hillyer
In 1906, Wilse Dilling, a crippled gangster living in the savage streets of Chinatown, receives a coded message to go to the home of his boss, Ann Cardington, known as Queen Anne, a powerful crime boss feared in the underworld. When Wilse meets with her, she sends him to the town of Fallbrook, where he is to await her instructions in dealing with a former lover of hers, a banker named Micha Hadley, who had betrayed her. Dilling is to pose as a telegraph operator in his effort to watch the banker. He finds a good friend in Hadley's daughter Gertrude, with whom he falls in love. Gertrude, however, is engaged to Jack Cooper.

The Shock is based on the short story "The Pit of the Golden Dragon" by William Dudley Pelley.
Key (info)
In scene
Carl Laemmle

Lon Chaney
The Shock

Passed by the
National Board
of Review

Copyrighted 1923 by
Universal Pictures Corporation
Carl Laemmle~Pres.

Story by

Directed by

Delving into the ever dimming records of yesterday, a lurid page arrests the eye. Chinatown---street of crime---of fear---of hate---of mystery---


---and the Mandarin Cafe---a whirlpool of vice and intrigue.

"Inhale it, you boob!"

Wilse Dilling was something of a mystery, even to Chinatown---he baffled the police, though he was listed on a page-long record at headquarters as "dangerous."



Wilse go to Queen Ann's house right away.


In those days, overlooking the Oriental Quarter, yet linked to it by secret, malevolent forces, there stood a house of mystery.

And guiding its destinies, a woman---a woman known through-out the underworld as "Queen Ann."

...Christine Mayo

"Wilse, you leave immediately for Fallbrook. I've placed you in the telegraph office there."

"Never mind what for! All you have to do is make friends, watch your step—and keep your eyes open."

"When I'm ready to use you, I'll let you know, by wire."

Not so many miles from this seething hotbed of crime, yet seemingly in another world, nestled the little town of Fallbrook.

Into this world came the dope-peddler, safe-cracker, gun-man....Wilse Dilling, the cripple---and in the weeks of waiting, something happened to him.

Call it the magic of flowers, the spell of sunshine; explain it as you will....the fact remained that he was different---the new life made the cesspool of poppy-land seem very far away.

Perhaps it was the influence of a good woman---Gertrude Hadley had paused to pity, and remained his teacher,...and first real friend.

...Virginia Valli

His visits to Gertrude Hadley were treasured hours in the life of Wilse Dilling---the only real happiness he had ever known.

"Here I am, and just bursting with questions!"

"You don't know how much your friendship means to me, Miss Gertrude - - most people haven't much use for cripples."

"How often have I told you not to talk that way! A handicap is often an asset--few people ever amount to anything without them."

"There are other things! Miss Gertrude, if you knew what I've been...what I've done, you wouldn't even talk to me."

"Yes I would! It isn't what you were, but what you are, that counts!"

"You mean a man's past doesn't count?—that there's always a chance—a chance to be something....different?"

"We can be anything we want—if the thought is right, and the will is behind the thought."

"In spite of everything?"

"What do you mean by...everything?"

"I'm a cripple—do you believe any amount of thinking can make me anything else?"

"Stranger things have happened—life without hope would be unbearable."

"I'd give half my life, if I could believe—what you believe."

"Wait for me—just a minute—I have something that will help you—I know it will!"


"My mother gave me this Bible before she died! It's my best friend."

"Somewhere in these pages I am sure you will find answers for every question."

"Just remember this—anything you wish can be accomplished, if the thought is right, and the will is behind it."

"It sounds too good to be true—but I'm going to try—to believe."


Gertrude's father, Micha Hadley, was the town's leading banker and most respected citizen

...William Welsh

"Why father, you look worried—is anything wrong?"

"I intended to have lunch with you, but I got started late and Wilse Dilling came over to have a little chat."

"You're spending too much time with him—he's not worth it, and somehow I—I don't like him."

"Oh father! If you really knew him; realized how like a child he is...and how sincere, you wouldn't talk that way!"

"Well, have your own way, my dear—and now, run along, and stop worrying about your old father."

In the days that followed - -

Jack Cooper, whose father owned the town's "general store."

...Jack Mower

"I came to return your Bible."

"I thought it was helping, but....I guess I was wrong."

"I'm going to tell you a secret! I'm engaged to marry Mr. Cooper—we've known each other for years."

"Aren't you glad of it, Mr. Dilling?"

"My best wishes, Miss Gertrude----"

"I hope you will be very, very happy."

"Cooper, if this Book is true; if there are such persons as Angels....she is one."

"No man living is good enough for her, but if you treat her right, I'll always be behind you."

"But if you don't, there's no power on earth can save you from me!"

That night, as usual, lights glowed behind the locked door and drawn curtains of the Hadley bank.


"How does it seem to be at the end of your rope?—to know you're a thief....a thief who's robbed his own bank—for a woman!"

"My God! You don't mean you're going turn me up!"

"I do--and have! But don't try to make a get-away--I've had a man in Fallbrook for weeks, and tonight he's received his orders."

"A bank-examiner'll be there tomorrow, and when they've put you where you once put me...a prison cell—think of'll have plenty of time!"

The hand of "Queen Ann" was far reaching, cruel, ruthless, sparing no one - - and Wilse Dilling found himself torn between the woman he loved and the woman he feared.

To my darling

"It's important, Mr. Hadley—and we mustn't be seen together."

"Mr. Hadley, are you all right with the bank?"

"How dare you ask me a question like that! If that's all you have to say, I'm not interested."

"Wait! I work for Ann Cardington, and ten minutes ago I got a wire from her, ordering me to----"

"I'm worried about father—he's been at the bank every night!"

"I know it sounds silly, but I must go down to the bank—I just feel that everything isn't right."

"Better break that engagement, son—things don't look as good as they did."

"---she'll be just like you for the rest of her life."

"Unless some surgeon performs a miracle---"

"God....Doctor! Not like me!"

Afterwards, the realization came to Hadley that in Wilse Dilling's friendship he might find a way out.

"I must talk to you because I know what you did and I know you did it to save me."

"I came to explain about Ann Cardington."

"We were to be married—I found out who and what she was—on my testimony they sent her to prison, vowing vengeance on me and mine."

"Ten years ago I found myself entangled in a political graft—tricked by Ann Cardington—my signature on documents that would send me to prison."

"For Gertrude's sake, I have paid for silence—paid and paid and paid—even with what was not mine to pay."

"No one will ever know! That's why I blew up the bank."

"But my signatures—I live in fear that some day, she'll use them against my daughter!"

"Your daughter? I'd give my life to save Miss Gertrude a single tear - - where are those signatures?"

"Hidden in her home—it's no use, Dilling, I've tried to get them."

"For your daughter's sake, Mr. Hadley, don't leave this town—you leave Ann Cardington to me and everything will be all right."


Victim of Fallbrook bomb tragedy has chance for complete recovery through operation, declares famous surgeon.
Investigators believe only few thousand dollars can be salvaged from wreck. Police fail to find dynamiters.

"We'll get the low-down on this from Wilse Dilling—I've sent for him to come back."

Upon his return, Ann Cardington had treated Wilse Dilling with a smile---but all the underworld knew that Queen Ann's smile was more dangerous than her frown.

"Doesn't it strike you as odd—that Hadley's bank was wrecked the very night the bank-examiner was due?"

"You're sure all the evidence against him was destroyed?"

"The papers said his daughter is going to recover."

"They operated on her here in town—it was a big success."

"You seem very happy about it."

"She was very kind to me."

"Someone saved Hadley from going to prison, and I'm rather glad — for now I'll make him suffer worse...through his daughter."

"With the hold I've got on Hadley, we'll make him wish he never had a daughter, Wilse."

While Gertrude Hadley, in a hospital overlooking the bay, had emerged from the Valley of Darkness into the Realm of Material Things.

Somewhere in Ann Cardington's house, Banker Hadley's signature was hidden---but where?

Meanwhile, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel---

"I've had bad news from father. It means that we - - -"

"You mean you wish to break our engagement?"

"Let's be practical—we can't live on love—can we?"

"Mr. Cooper, I want you to meet me at the Mandarin Cafe after midnight—it's very important."

"It's about Miss Hadley—and if you don't come, God help you!"

"Don't interfere with him—it couldn't have worked better, had I planned it myself."

In the Mandarin Cafe—

For two hours, Dilling has been trying to nerve Cooper into entering the House of Mystery.

"You've got to reach that box for me....there's no one else I can trust."

"I'm done! I'm not going to marry her anyway!"

"You yellow sneak! But get this — she kissed you once, and tonight, you're going to pay for that kiss!"

"The other night, I told you I'd make Hadley wish he'd never had a daughter."

"What's that got to do with him?"

"He is going to call her down here."

"Call up that girl and tell her we'll send a cab for her."

"Don't do it...God, man...don't let her get into their clutches."

"Tell her Wilse Dilling has been hurt in an accident; that he wants to see her. We'll send a cab."

"Gertrude, I'm down at the Mandarin. Wilse Dilling is hurt — he wants to see you."

"We'll send a cab for you."

"Your father ruined my life—he's been paying for it, year by year! Thanks to Wilse Dilling, he got away from me — but through Wilse Dilling, I've!"

"You thought you were double-crossing me, Wilse! Well, take a last look at your pretty'll never see her again."

"Take her up to the house - - hold her there until I come."

At that moment, as if in answer to his prayer, the hand of Providence interfered---


Among the hundreds of bruised and broken things, dragged from the smoking horror of yesterday, was Wilse Dilling, and after weeks of convalescence---

"It's a beautiful view, from the railing."

"Shall I wheel you over there?"

"I like the shade—I'll wait for you here."

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

The author died in 1969, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 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.