Of the few surviving films of director John H. Collins, The Cossack Whip may be the most grimly powerful. Set in pre-Revolutionary Russia, the film stars Collins' actress-wife Viola Dana as Darya, a revenge-driven ballerina. With the help of revolutionary leader Sergius (Richard Tucker), Darya is able to escape the clutches of Turov (Frank Farrington), the despicable Czarist police chief who murdered her husband and father. After rising to fame on the London stage, Darya returns to Moscow, where she catches the eye of Turov, who fails to recognize her. Persuading Turov to take her to his headquarters, Darya playfully asks him to manacle her to the wall of his private torture chamber. She then invites him to place the manacles on his own wrists, with the implicit promise that she will then service him sexually. But once Turov is helplessly chained to the wall, Darya grabs the police chief's own whip and lashes him brutally. His screams attract the attention of a huge guard, who -- much to Turov's horror and Darya's delight -- turns out to be a revolutionist. Drawing his pistol, the guard snuffs out Turov's life and allows Darya to escape to America. A bizarre combination of traditional melodrama and Krafft-Ebbing kinkiness, The Cossack Whip proved beyond doubt that John H. Collins was a major cinematic talent.
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