This review is part of the A Play of Light and Shadow: Horror in Silent Cinema Series

Movie Review – The Mechanical Man (1921)

Italy’s The Mechanical Man (1921), directed by André Deed, is a mix of science-fiction, horror, and comedy. It tells of a scientist who creates a large robot that is incredibly strong and fast, and is controlled remotely via a series of cranks, wheels, and switches. The scientist is killed and his invention commandeered by a criminal mastermind, a woman named Mado, who uses his creation to burst through doors, steal safes, and wreak general havoc. The scientist’s brother creates another robot to battle it, and there is a final showdown inside an immense opera house.

Unfortunately, anyone who has not done prior research might be forgiven for missing plot points, as only 26 minutes of film remains, which originally ran over an hour. Most of the lost footage encompasses the beginning sequences and cast titles, so it is not always clear watching who some of the characters are. Nevertheless, the present footage hints at a fun movie filled with sight gags, robot destruction, and pulp-like villainy.

Yet as it is, only a select few of genre completionists today will find reason to watch this curio, or at least what’s left of it.

Grade: D

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