The Info List - The Miracle Man (1919 Film)

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THE MIRACLE MAN is a 1919 American silent drama film starring Lon Chaney and based on a 1914 play by George M. Cohan , which in turn is based on the novel of the same title by Frank L. Packard . The film was released by Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
, directed, produced, and written by George Loane Tucker
George Loane Tucker
, and also stars Thomas Meighan
Thomas Meighan
and Betty Compson . The film made overnight successes of the three stars, most notably putting Chaney on the map as a character actor.

Paramount remade the film in 1932 also titled The Miracle Man with Hobart Bosworth
Hobart Bosworth
, Chester Morris
Chester Morris
, John Wray , and Sylvia Sidney
Sylvia Sidney
. Today, the majority of the 1919 film is considered lost , with only two fragments, totaling about three minutes, surviving. Lon Chaney during the production of The Miracle Man.


* 1 Plot * 2 Cast * 3 Background and production * 4 Reception * 5 Preservation * 6 Home media * 7 References * 8 External links


The film takes place in a small, New England
New England
town in 1919 (the Broadway play 1914), where a group of con men plan to use a faith healer to collect money.

In New York City
New York City
's Chinatown , four crooks conspire to swindle a small, New England
New England
town. The gang consists of Tom Burke (Thomas Meighan), the head of the group; Rose (Betty Compson), a con artist posing as a street walker; "The Dope" (J.M. Dumont), who pretends to pimp Rose; and The Frog (Lon Chaney), a contortionist. Betty Compson and Joseph J. Dowling in a scene with St. Bernard co-star.

The plan is clear: in a small town outside of Boston there is a Patriarch (Joseph Dowling) who has been healing people. The group heads to the town and plans to use the Patriarch in a faith healing scheme. When the townspeople gather to see the Patriarch heal the sick, the Frog is there, posing as a cripple. As he crawls to the path of the man, his limbs become straightened and soon he walks to the Patriarch, supposedly healed. Unexpectedly, a crippled boy, his faith in the Patriarch overpowering him, loses his crutches and runs to the Patriarch.

The story spreads across the country (mostly on account of Burke), and people flock in from all over to visit the Patriarch and be healed. When a millionaire, Richard King (W. Lawson Butt), brings his sister to be healed, he gives Burke $50,000 after the Patriarch cures her. During this visit, King meets Rose, and the two fall in love.

Meanwhile, all is not well with Burke. One by one, he sees his gang disbanding, unbeknownst to him, the healing power of the Patriarch at work. The Dope gives up his drug addiction, The Frog gives up his life of crime and takes care of a widow left all alone, and Rose laments King's departure.

Burke becomes jealous, but when King returns to propose his marriage to Rose, she realizes that she loves Burke. The Patriarch dies, and the two lovers begin anew.


* Lon Chaney – The Frog * Betty Compson
Betty Compson
– Rose * Joseph J. Dowling – The Patriarch * J. M. Dumont – The Dope * Elinor Fair – Claire King * Thomas Meighan
Thomas Meighan
– Tom Burke * F. A. Turner – Mr. Higgins * Lucille Hutton – Ruth Higgins * Lawson Butt
Lawson Butt
– Richard King * Kisaburo Kurihara – The Jap


* Tula Belle * T. D. Crittenden
T. D. Crittenden
* Ruby Lafayette * Frankie Lee


Initially intended as a vehicle for Meighan after he saw the Cohan play, Cohan sold the rights to the story to Paramount for $25,000. Packard sold the rights to his original novel for $17,500. George Loane Tucker had previously been hailed as one of the "first of the immortals" of film directors after his 1913 success, Traffic in Souls .

Lon Chaney was chosen by director George Loane Tucker, and this was his eighth film as a free-lance artist after leaving Universal Studios in 1918. His work in the William S. Hart picture, Riddle Gawne set him as a character actor of some notoriety, but it was The Miracle Man that would put both his acting and makeup skills (for which he was famous) to the test. Chaney auditioned for the part of The Frog in Tucker's office, grotesquely contorting his body. Tucker was reportedly "shaken" by the intensity of Chaney's performance.

This film version is more based on the novel than the stage play. However, neither the movie nor the stage play used the character names from the novel.


The Frog The Flopper (uses alias Michael Coogan)

Rose Helena Smith (uses alias Helena Vail)

The Dope Pale Face Harry

Tom Burke John Garfield "Doc" Madison

Richard King Robert Thornton


The Miracle Man was well received by both critics and audiences. Initially produced for $126,000, the film grossed an estimated $3,000,000 in theaters and became the second highest-grossing film of 1919. During the film's run at the Orchestra Hall in Chicago, (where it broke all house records), airplanes dropped free tickets and brass coins which read "The Miracle Man is here" printed on one side and "Have faith, keep this" on the other.

Because of the film's success, it launched its leads, Compson, Meighan and Chaney, into stardom. Meighan later went on to major leading roles while Chaney became one of the highest paid character actors in Hollywood until his death in 1930. Compson's name rose above the titles of most of the movies she made for the rest of the