The Penalty
The Penalty (1920)

This picture, based on the novel by Gouverneur Morris, was a tour de force for Lon Chaney, who plays a legless kingpin of the Barbary Coast underworld. When Buzzard (Chaney) was a boy, his legs were amputated by an incompetent doctor; now… More

Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: January 1, 1920
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2005
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Available Online

Critic Score: 80% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Demonstrates the wonder and value of pre-digital moviemmaking: For all intents and purposes, Chaney *is* a legless man in 'The Penalty,' and the film is a documentary record of this impersonation.

Full review…
Emily Blunt
Blunt Review

The Penalty is by far one of the greatest unsung achievements of über-legend Lon Chaney

Steve Crum

Famous scene of Chaney straightening twisted legs is real plus.

Michael W. Phillips, Jr.
Goatdog's Movies

The reason the film still works instead of surviving merely as a somewhat hysterical anti-communist message film is Lon Chaney's performance.

Full review…
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Somewhat interesting for historical reasons and for Chaney's memorable performance.

Full review…
More reviews for The Penalty

Flixster Audience Score: 76% Flixster User Reviews
Aj V
This movie was very predictable, but Cheney does a great job as usual in his strange role of a criminal kingpin without legs. The romantic part of it was good… More