|Directed by||Tod Browning|
|Written by||Tod Browning|
|Edited by||Errol Taggart|
Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
|Language||Silent (English intertitles)|
A title card introduces the setting as London's Limehouse district, "with its lust, greed and love, a sea of fog, a drama of human faces.” A cheap music hall is overseen by the tough Dan Tate, who also manages a small gang of thieves under the alias "The Blackbird." As a cover, though, Tate also poses as his own deformed and noble twin brother, affectionately known as the "Bishop of Limehouse," who supposedly lives above an adjoining mission for the poor. When police arrive at the mission and accuse The Blackbird of robbery, he offers the alibi that he had been sleeping in his room and goes to get to get his "brother" to confirm his story. While the police hear two apparently different voices talking, Dan changes clothes and contorts his body, with his arms and legs at extreme angles, then making his way down the stairs with a crutch as The Bishop, verifying The Blackbird's alibi.
Later at the music hall, a "slumming" group of upper-class Londoners arrives, led by the apparently wealthy and respectable Bertram P. Glade, who is really a thief known to Dan and others as "West End Bertie." At the same time, Polly, Dan's former wife, returns to the music hall after a long absence, apparently to Dan's displeasure. Both Dan and Bertie are attracted to Fifi Lorraine, a puppeteer and dancer performing on the stage. She in turn is attracted to the diamond choker worn by a woman in Bertie's group.
Bertie arranges to have his group robbed by his own men and takes the choker and other jewelry he received to his home, where he is confronted by The Blackbird, who insists that he is owed a portion of Bertie's haul. The two settle on a coin toss to decide who will get the choker, which Dan wins. The next night, however, Bertie succeeds in taking Fifi home after her performance despite Dan's efforts to woo her. In the meantime, Polly approaches her ex-husband, trying to appeal to the better side that she sees in him.
Bertie and Fifi fall in love with each other and go to The Bishop to ask him to perform their marriage. In his disguise, Dan exposes Bertie's occupation to Fifi. The gentleman thief promises to reform and return his stolen goods, but Dan alerts the police, who raid Bertie's home. Dan shoots one of the policemen, expecting the crime to be pinned on Bertie, who is then hidden by The Bishop after Fifi pleads for his help. As The Bishop, Dan works to turn Bertie and Fifi against each other so that he can declare his own love to her, but one of The Blackbird's men tells the police who actually shot the officer.
Polly has become aware that the police are coming to arrest The Blackbird and goes to warn Dan, but she finds him kissing Fifi, who leaves the room. Hoping to throw the police off his trail, Dan stages a "fight" between his two identities behind the closed door of The Bishop's room above the mission. When the door is suddenly opened, it strikes Dan, who is now dressed as The Bishop. He falls and breaks his back in his contorted pose. The police enter and place The Bishop on his bed and leave to run after the supposedly fugitive Blackbird. When Polly enters, Dan asks her to burn The Blackbird's clothing, which he had hidden nearby, and she finally realizes that the two "brothers" are the same man. Dan's injuries, though, are severe and he soon dies, to be mourned in his "good" identity by the people he actually helped, while Bertie and Fifi are reunited, presumably to marry.
- Lon Chaney as Dan 'The Blackbird' / The Bishop
- Owen Moore as Bertram P. 'West End Bertie' Glayde
- Renée Adorée as Mademoiselle Fifi Lorraine
- Doris Lloyd as Limehouse Polly
- Andy MacLennan as The Shadow
- William Weston as Red
- Sidney Bracey as Bertie's No. 1 Man
- Ernie Adams as Bertie's No. 2 Man
- Charles Avery as Music Hall Patron (uncredited)
- Lionel Belmore as Music Hall Proprietor (uncredited)
- Margaret Bert as Minor Role (uncredited)
- Peggy Best as Minor Role (uncredited)
- Louise Emmons as Old Lady at Mission (uncredited)
- Willie Fung as Chinese Man (uncredited)
- Fred Gamble as Man Saying There's a Present for Fifi (uncredited)
- Cecil Holland as Old Man at Mission (uncredited)
- Bertram Johns as Member of Bertie's Slumming Party (uncredited)
- Billy Mack as Minor Role (uncredited)
- James T. Mack as Doctor (uncredited)
- Eric Mayne as Member of Bertie's Slumming Party (uncredited)
- Polly Moran as Flower Lady at Music Hall (uncredited)
- Frank Norcross as Music Hall Announcer (uncredited)
- Eddie Sturgis as Bartender (uncredited)
The film received positive reviews, especially for Chaney's performance in his scenes transitioning from "The Blackbird" to the twisted body of "The Bishop," but it was judged as not being as good some of Chaney's previous films. The film did earn a profit of $63,000, but that was the lowest return of any of Chaney's films for MGM.
- "Progressive Silent Film List: The Blackbird". silentera.com. Retrieved May 10, 2008.
- "The Blackbird (1926), History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films: The First 100 Years, 1893-1993. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
- Mirsalis, Jon C. (2008). "The Blackbird". longchaney.org Filmography. Retrieved December 13, 2020.