The Big City (1928 film)

1928 film / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Big City is a 1928 American silent crime film directed by Tod Browning[1] and starring Lon Chaney. Waldemar Young wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Tod Browning. The film is now lost.[2]

Quick facts: The Big City, Directed by, Written by, Produc...
The Big City
Film poster
Directed byTod Browning
Written byWaldemar Young (screenplay)
Tod Browning (story)
Joseph Farnham (titles)
Produced byIrving G. Thalberg
StarringLon Chaney
Betty Compson
Matthew Betz
Marceline Day
James Murray
John George
CinematographyHenry Sharp
Edited byHarry Reynolds
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • March 24, 1928 (1928-03-24)
Running time
70 minutes (7 reels)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent with English intertitles
Film poster or trade advert.

The last known print of the film had been sent to Australia in the late 1950s. The film was returned to MGM and placed in their vaults where it was destroyed in the same vault fire that also claimed London After Midnight and Tower of Lies in 1965.[3] A short trailer for the film survives at Cinémathèque française in France, but it does not include any actual footage from the film itself.[4] Stills exist showing Chaney in the Chuck Collins role.[5][6] This was Betty Compson's only film at MGM.

The sets were designed by Cedric Gibbons. The set for Chuck Collins' nightclub was also used for the nightclub scenes in While the City Sleeps. Clinton Lyle, who plays a gangster in The Big City, was one of Chaney's closest personal friends.

The film was in production from October 27, 1927 to November 19, 1927, and cost $172,000 to produce. The worldwide box office gross was $833,000. Fearing the censors might have a problem with the film's criminal characters, Thalberg requested an extra 90-minute alternate ending be filmed which would have showed that Chuck reformed in the finale, but the footage was never used and no longer exists.

The film's tagline was "Lon Chaney gives his most effective performance now as the underworld leader in this throbbing film production. A sputter of bullets in the dark...a battle of crook against crook...and the flowering of a beautiful romance in this amazing setting."