Hot on ‘The Artist’s oscar success yesterday (well done chaps) is Lon Chaney in ITV’s slightly implausible mystery drama ‘Whitechapel’, sort of. In the first part of a two-part episode, first screened yesterday, it is revealed that the escaped criminally insane killer is a fan of Chaney. The viewer was alerted to this when the lower grade ‘tecs investigated the killer’s old home and his nutter room was covered in a large mural of Chaney and a possibly not old enough projector to run old films through.
Later on when looking through the psycho’s case history it turns out the set designers weren’t having fun but the character is a Chaney fan who claimed to have the only surviving copy of ’London after Midnight’(1927). And as all cases in ‘Whitechapel’ have links to old murders, back in the 1920′s a murderer blamed ‘London After Midnight’ for their crimes. Back to the present day the escaped killer’s hatred of noise is the explanation of his love of silent film and putting him away in a noisy jail for the insane has made him even loonier! He asked to be allowed to dress as Chaney in jail but the doctors wouldn’t let him. So now he’s out he dresses in a mask! Er, if he’s a fan of Lon Chaney shouldn’t he be trying his hand at make-ups? The mask itself looks like a dissolved Frankenstein mask plus the black clothing and tights make the perp look more like he’s been watching too much ‘Caligari’, duh.
A reason why the makers chose ‘London after Midnight’ over any other silent horror is that the first series of ‘Whitechapel’ was about the hunt for a Jack the Ripper style copycat killer, while Chaney based his look in ‘London after Midnight’ on what Jack the Ripper allegedly looked like.
Update: In the second part one of the detectives was given a copy of ‘London after Midnight’ the viewers weren’t told what he did with the reel. Maybe he won’t be in the next series after making millions selling the film?(!).
Update 2: After looking at Chaney DVDs on amazon I noticed ‘Whitechapel’ listed in ‘customers who viewed this also viewed’ box. Are ‘Whitechapel’ fans now watching Lon Chaney or vise versa? The power of publicity, interesting.
Watch at: http://www.itv.com/whitechapel/