A young man joins the French Foreign Legion and is sent to Algieria, where he becomes a target for hatred by his commander. However, the commander has a change of heart when he realizes who... See full summary »

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Cast

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Lou Tellegen ...
Richard Farquhar
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Capt. Destinn
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Nancy Preston
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Capt. Arnaud
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First Private
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Second Private
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Hotel Proprietor
George Gebhardt ...
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Storyline

A young man joins the French Foreign Legion and is sent to Algieria, where he becomes a target for hatred by his commander. However, the commander has a change of heart when he realizes who the young man is. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Adventure | Drama

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9 December 1915 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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If the camels die, ... WE die.
14 May 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Lou Tellegen is a footnote in theatrical history, having played opposite Sarah Bernhardt as her handsome romantic leading man during her last great tour. (If Tellegen's acting ability had matched his looks, Madame Sarah would certainly not have chosen him!) Tellegen's autobiography 'Women Have Been Kind' is laughably inept and bathetic. Dorothy Parker, writing in 'Vanity Fair', famously suggested that the book should be retitled 'Women Have Been Kind ... of Dumb'. Groucho Marx claimed that Lou Tellegen was 'a fairy', but there's no evidence that Groucho ever met Tellegen. Groucho also claimed that the Marx Brothers performed in vaudeville with Sarah Bernhardt... but all records indicate that this never happened.

'The Unknown' (the title refers to Tellegen's role) stars Lou Tellegen as a mysterious and romantic young wanderer named Farquhar who lands up in Algeria, where he joins the Foreign Legion. Farquhar immediately incurs the wrath of the sadistic Captain Destinn, who has him flogged and does other nasty things to him. Conveniently, there just happens to be a beautiful waitress (Dorothy Davenport) at the local hotel; she and Farquhar hit it off instantly.

SPOILERS COMING. The romance between Farquhar and his barmaid makes Destinn angrier. He's about to send Farquhar off on an assignment which Destinn knows is really a suicide mission. At the last moment, Destinn discovers by chance that Farquhar is actually an embittered French nobleman, wandering the globe under an assumed identity. (Yes, he actually CHOSE the name Farquhar!) Destinn salutes the blue-blood, tears up Farquhar's induction papers, and sends him on his merry way with Dorothy. Vive la France!

This movie is nonsense, but there are good performances by burly Theodore Roberts (as Destinn) and from Tom Forman (somewhat burly) and Raymond Hatton (not nearly so burly) as a couple of grunts in the Foreign Legion. But this movie is totally implausible without ever becoming funny. I'll rate 'The Unknown' 2 points out of 10. This movie was such a flop that its title became available again a few years later, for a completely unrelated Lon Chaney movie ... and this plotline was remade in 1928 as 'The Foreign Legion', with nobody remembering the original version.


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