The Unknown (1927)
Character-technician Lon Chaney portrays an armless sideshow knifethrower(!) enamoured of his lovely assistant (Joan Crawford) -- a woman with an unnatural fear of physical touch. Perhaps the most interesting of several freakishly horrific melodramas Chaney made in collaboration with Dracula(1931) director Tod Browning.
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Critic Reviews for The Unknown
Tod Browning's rousing, cruel joke on the mutilated artiste and the frigid muse
It may not be Browning's best silent film, but it is certainly his most fascinatingly perverse -- and that's saying something in the world of Tod Browning.
Audience Reviews for The Unknown
A brilliant love story, I loved it, I just wish it were a bit longer, but other than that, it's perfect. It's a love story about obsession, lies, and murder. And the climactic scene towards the end was riveting. And Lon Cheney is fantastic as a 'one armed' man. I highly recommend this movie.More
wow. tod browning was one twisted fuck. this is like a precursor to freaks, with joan crawford when she was still cute and a standout performance by lon chaney. one of the stranger films you'll ever seeMore
"I did what you told me, Alonzo. I took her in my arms."
Okay, no need to rub it in, Malabar!
Hmm, how can I describe this one without spoiling the plot? Leaving out the twisted elements, which quite honestly have to be seen to be believed, it's a love triangle set against a circus backdrop, in which Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) and Malabar the Mighty compete for the affection of Nanon (Joan Crawford), the ringmaster's daughter. Since Nanon cannot stand to be pawed by men, Alonzo appears to be winning this contest hands down, if you'll pardon the pun. However, he has a guilty secret... Let's just say this is a serious cautionary tale about the perils of resorting to surgery to attract a mate. I think this is actually my favourite of the Tod Browning movies I've seen so far because, great as they are, Dracula and Freaks are very primitive talkies, whereas The Unknown is a sophisticated late silent. As a circus revenge movie, it also has one of the things Freaks lacks: a great star performance. Alonzo the Armless kicks ass! Ta, R :P
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