Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)
  • The Unknown (1927) - Plot Summary - Directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney as Alonzo the Armless Wonder, a circus performer who has an act throwing knives with his feet at attractive Nanon (Joan Crawford) -- as she spins on this wheel the knives cut off her dress ending her up in hot pants and halter. Of course, Alonzo is terribly in love with Nanon, only she has a fancy for the circus strong man/beefcake Malabar (Norman Kerry) - BUT only problem is, Nanon has a strange phobia of men's hands and hates for a man's hands to "paw all over her". Now here's a weird part about this whole thing - Alonzo is not really armless but hiding from the police, his arms strapped down under his costume to help hide his identity. Nanon has no fear of Alonzo, unaware that he really has arms. And in a desperate act, Alonzo blackmails a doctor to perform an operation to alter his body so that he can win over Nanon for himself!

    Review - I am not even going to go into the rest of the details of this plotline, keeping it a surprise for someone who hasn't seen this. But this is an absolutely terrific film of the horror ilk - bizarre and unusual. Lon Chaney is so amazing in this - so flexible as he is able to make Alonzo do everything from drinking wine to smoking cigarettes with his feet. The print that I always see of this, as shown on TCM, has a really perfect score to match the film too. One of my all-time favorite silents. Rating - * 10/10 stars *

    Director: Tod Browning
    Film Genre: Melodrama / Horror
    Film Runtime: 49 minutes

Links / Resources

film review The Unknown starring Lon Chaney


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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