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The Unholy Three (1925)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 16 August 1925 (USA)
A sideshow ventriloquist, midget, and strongman form a conspiracy known as "The Unholy Three" and commit a series of robberies.

Director:

Writers:

(story) (as Tod Robbins), (scenario)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Matthew Betz ...
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Attorney for the Defense (as William Humphreys)
E. Alyn Warren ...
Prosecuting Attorney (as A.E. Warren)
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Storyline

Three sideshow performers leave their lives of captivity and become "The Unholy Three." Echo the ventriloquist assumes the role of a kindly old grandmother who runs a bird shop. Tweedledee, the "twenty inch man," becomes her grandbaby, and Hercules is their assistant. Soon an incredible crime wave is launched from their little store. Written by David Ezell <dezell@cody.gac.peachnet.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 August 1925 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Trindade Maldita  »

Box Office

Budget:

$103,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$704,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the scene where Echo and company are fleeing the pet store, Echo decides to take his pet ape with them. The "Ape" was actually a three-foot-tall chimp who was made to appear gigantic with camera trickery, an especially built smaller scale set to make it look bigger, and perspective shots. When Echo removes the ape from his cage, the shot shows Echo (with his back turned to the camera) unlocking the cage and walking the ape to the truck. The ape appears to be roughly the same size as Echo. This effect was achieved by having dwarf actor Harry Earles (who played "Tweedledee" in the film) play Echo for these brief shots, and then cutting to the normal sized Lon Chaney, making it seems as though the Ape is gigantic. See more »

Goofs

For a couple of shots when Echo & The Kid are at Mr. Arlington's house, Harry Earles (the actor playing The Kid) accidentally left his wedding ring on his finger. See more »

Quotes

Professor Echo, the ventriloquist, aka Mrs. 'Granny' O'Grady: What a bonehead I was to overlook that!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Devil's Rejects (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Odd and Engaging
29 October 2001 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

This Lon Chaney vehicle, directed by the great Tod Browning, is the story of three circus performers who begin to thieve jewels. They open a shop that sells parrots as a front. Chaney, a ventriloquist, dresses up as an old woman, one of his cohorts a man posing as the old woman's son, and the third, a midget, as his infant son (one of the major reasons to see this flick is that the same midget, here named Tweedledeedee, also plays Hans, the midget who marries the acrobat Cleopatra in Browning's later masterpiece, Freaks; in this film he actually is seen smoking a giant cigar, which, in Freaks, his fiancee suggested that he shouldn't smoke). One other circus performer, a woman, knows about their plans. Chaney loves her, but she doesn't reciprocate his feelings. The Unholy Three also hire a young dufus to help with the store. In case they get into trouble, they can always pin it on that guy. The store also sports a chimpanzee, humorously filmed so that he seems as big as a gorilla (when it is to walk through a doorway, it walks through a smaller doorway, for instance, than the actors do).

The story of the film is very interesting. It can also can be quite funny, quite suspenseful, and quite pathetic, especially when Chaney is trying to court the young woman. There's at least one masterful sequence, where a policeman almost discovers the jewels the gang has stolen. They hide it in a toy elephant, which amuses the officer very much. The film also uses ventriloquism quite marvelously - I assume that a lot of the audience of this film in 1925 only knew of ventriloquism by second-hand knowledge - they just knew that ventriloquists could throw their voices, not knowing what it would actually look or sound like. In a silent movie then, you could take full advantage of the audience's ignorance. When Madame O'Grady (Chaney's aka) is trying to sell parrots that don't actually talk as talking parrots, she throws her voice to fool the customers. Browning actually shows that the parrots are supposed to be speaking by drawing speech bubbles on the film in front of the birds! The climax also uses ventriloquism wonderfully: Chaney throws his voice to a man who is on the stand, apparently testifying - he moves his lips, but Chaney supplies the voice. Of course, we know that's ridiculous, but only a few in 1925 would have scoffed. 8/10.


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