He Who Gets Slapped

Director: Victor Sjöström
Year Released: 1924
Rating: 1.5

Brilliant scientist Paul Beaumont (Lon Chaney) has his theories and his girl stolen from him by his patron, Regnard (Marc McDermott) - he also gets mocked by fellow scientists - so he does what every academic feels tempted to do: he runs off with the circus and becomes a clown to get physically abused.  The Library of Congress considers it "significant" but I would say only "historically" and certainly not "artistically": it's a weak variation of the Pagliacci narrative (although based on a play by Leonid Andreyev) and hopelessly pathetic and overwrought (after Paul - who goes by "HE" - feeds his tormentors to tigers he's 'saved' ... and then dies of heartache anyway).  Chaney devours the scenery - it may be a silent film but you can practically hear him 'acting.'