The Wonderful Chance - Wikiwand
For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for The Wonderful Chance.

The Wonderful Chance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wonderful Chance
1922 Advertisement
Directed byGeorge Archainbaud
Written byH. H. Van Loan (original story)
Mary Murillo (scenario)
Melville Hammett (scenario)
StarringEugene O'Brien
Martha Mansfield
Rudolph Valentino
CinematographyHenry Cronjager[1]
Distributed bySelect Pictures
Release date
  • September 27, 1920 (1920-09-27)
Running time
52 minutes; 5 reels (5,137 feet)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Wonderful Chance (also The Thug and His Wonderful Chance) is a 1920 American silent crime drama film produced by Lewis Selznick and released by Select Pictures. This picture stars Eugene O'Brien in a dual role and was directed by George Archainbaud. While this film survives today in several archives, it is best known for featuring Rudolph Valentino in a villain role rather than the hero. In the 1960s scenes from the film were used in the documentary The Legend of Rudolph Valentino (1961) narrated by Graeme Ferguson.[2][3][4]


As described in a film magazine,[5] recently released convict 'Swagger' Barlow (O'Brien) is mistaken for Lord Birmingham (O'Brien) and is feted and dined, while the true nobleman is held by a scheming band of crooks. He falls in love with Peggy (Mansfield), the daughter of his host Parker Winton (Cook). Through the actions of Barlow, Lord Birmingham is released. Peggy, after explanations, agrees to wait for Barlow to "come back."



Henry Cronjager's use of the "double exposure" method to film an actor on screen in two different roles at the same time, was one of the first uses of this method. This occurs when Eugene O'Brien, in the guise of "Swagger" Barlow, interrogates himself in the persona of Lord Birmingham. Unlike the more common, and easier, method of using a split screen, the use of double exposure allows the actor to appear on the same side of the screen in both roles, in this case allowing Barlow to circle Birmingham.[1]


Copies of the film are in the George Eastman House Motion Picture Collection and Museum of Modern Art film archive, and it has been released on DVD.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Explaining the Mystery of the Movie Double". The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio). January 25, 1921. p. 9. Retrieved September 10, 2017 – via open access
  2. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1911-20 published by The American Film Institute, c.1988
  3. ^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films: The Wonderful Chance
  4. ^ a b Progressive Silent Film List: The Wonderful Chance at
  5. ^ "Reviews: The Wonderful Chance". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 11 (17): 86. October 23, 1920.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
The Wonderful Chance
Listen to this article