Shadows (1922 film)

Shadows is a dramatic 1922 silent film starring Lon Chaney, Marguerite De La Motte, Harrison Ford and John St. Polis. Shadows is a tale of deception, sacrifice and humility by a gentle Chinese immigrant in a small New England town directed by Tom Forman.

Directed byTom Forman
Produced byB.P. Schulberg
Written byWilbur Daniel Steele
Eve Unsell (adaptation)
StarringLon Chaney
Marguerite De La Motte
Harrison Ford
John St. Polis
Music byLouis Gottschalk
CinematographyHarry Perry
Distributed byPreferred Pictures
Release date
  • November 10, 1922 (1922-11-10)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles


A boastful and proud yet abusive fisherman by the name of Daniel Gibbs (Walter Long) leaves his wife Sympathy (De La Motte) to go on a fishing expedition with other villagers from their village of Urkey and is lost at sea. Two men survive, one villager and a mysterious Chinese stranger named Yen Sin (Chaney). Being Chinese and refusing to take part in Christian service for those lost, he is made an outcast and forced to live on a small boat in the harbor. He makes his living doing laundry from his boat, and is soon greeted by the new minister, John Malden (Ford), who tries unsuccessfully to convert him. Love blossoms between Reverend Malden and Sympathy, and they are soon married, to the chagrin of the wealthiest member of the village, Nate Snow (St. Polis). Sympathy soon befriends Yen Sin after she observes several kids taunting him in the street.

Snow concocts a blackmail scheme by resurrecting Sympathy's lost husband Daniel in a letter demanding payment to keep quiet. Malden receives the letter just before going on a trip with Snow, and leaves the now pregnant Sympathy with this serious development on his mind. Yen Sin tells Malden to be sure and get his laundry done by using his friend Sam Low, who turns out to be a very good informant for Yen Sin. While he is away, their baby is born, and he now decides to pay the blackmail money in order to preserve his new family. Malden, upon his return, is so distraught that he resigns from the ministry, and asks Snow if he can borrow money from him to pay off Gibbs. Snow does not get to enjoy the benefits of his deception as Yen Sin exposes the blackmail plot in order to save the young couple, revealing everything while on his deathbed.





After the film, the reviews were very positive towards Lon Chaney as Yen Sin. Harrison's Reports said that "through tragedy, the sad fate of the principal characters does not leave an unpleasant feeling. On the contrary, their fate so arouses the compassion of the spectator that he feels regret for not being able to help relieve their sufferings. The acting of Mr. Chaney, who assumes the role of a Chinaman, is remarkable. Better acting he has never done in his life. Every one of the other players, too, acts well."[1] Variety called the film "A decidedly grim and morbid tale, directed and presented without any lighter relieving moments."[2]


  1. "Shadows Reviews". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  2. "Shadows: Synopsis". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
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