7.9/10
5,263
96 user 40 critic

The Unknown (1927)

Unrated | | Drama, Horror, Romance | 4 June 1927 (USA)
A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A sideshow ventriloquist, midget, and strongman form a conspiracy known as "The Unholy Three" and commit a series of robberies.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lon Chaney, Mae Busch, Matt Moore
Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer.

Directors: Rupert Julian, Lon Chaney, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A professional clown and a self-indulgent count learn to help each other with their problems, but then become romantic rivals.

Director: Herbert Brenon
Stars: Lon Chaney, Bernard Siegel, Loretta Young
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A bitter clown endeavors to rescue the young woman he loves from the lecherous count who once betrayed him.

Director: Victor Sjöström
Stars: Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In fifteenth century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.

Director: Wallace Worsley
Stars: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry
The Crowd (1928)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The life of a man and woman together in a large, impersonal metropolis through their hopes, struggles and downfalls.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Eleanor Boardman, James Murray, Bert Roach
Foolish Wives (1922)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A con artist masquerades a Russian nobility and attempts to seduce the wife of an American diplomat.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Rudolph Christians, Miss DuPont, Maude George
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Sjöström
Stars: Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg
The Penalty (1920)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A deformed criminal mastermind plans to loot the city of San Francisco as well as revenge himself on the doctor who mistakenly amputated his legs.

Director: Wallace Worsley
Stars: Charles Clary, Doris Pawn, Jim Mason
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in ... See full summary »

Director: Germaine Dulac
Stars: Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillière, Jean d'Yd
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A young American soldier witnesses the horrors of the Great War.

Directors: King Vidor, George W. Hill
Stars: John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Hobart Bosworth
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Nick De Ruiz ...
John George ...
Frank Lanning ...
Edit

Storyline

Alonzo is an armless knife thrower and gun shooter for a circus---or so he appears. He is actually a burglar with his arms intact. He and his accomplice, Cojo (a little person), are hiding from the police, and Alonzo views his disguise as perfect, especially since it keeps from view an unusual deformity of his left hand that would immediately give him away as the burglar. Nanon, the daughter of the circus owner, is the target in his act. Although Alonzo is in love with her, Nanon's father despises him. Nanon is attracted to Malabar, the circus strong man, but she is also repulsed by his uninhibited sexual advances and desire to touch and hold her. Apparently her phobia extends to the touch of any man. Alonzo feeds her fears in the hopes that Nanon will fall in love with him since he is "armless." Because Zanzi discovers Alonzo really has arms, Alonzo kills him, but Nanon witnesses the killing without seeing Alonzo's face; however, she does see the telltale deformity of his left hand. ... Written by Patrick Robbins <elfdorado@sbcglobal.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 June 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alonzo the Armless  »

Box Office

Budget:

$217,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BFI print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. See more »

Goofs

During the scene where we fist meet Alonzo and he is throwing knives with his feet, the shot shows the girl against the board and there are no knives. It cuts to Alonzo throwing and when it goes back to the girl to see the impact there are knives in a silhouette around her. See more »

Quotes

Malabar the Mighty, Circus Strongman: See, Nanon! Eyes that adore you... hands that long to caress you... and strength to protect you! Why do you always draw away from me?
Nanon Zanzi: Why isn't he different from other men! Why doesn't he keep his hands off me?
Nanon Zanzi: Hands! Men's hands! How I hate them!
Nanon Zanzi: Men! The beasts! God would show wisdom if he took the hands from all of them!
Nanon Zanzi: Forgive me, Alonzo... I did not mean you.
Nanon Zanzi: You are the one man I can come to without fear.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Thumbs Up!
1 April 2005 | by (Derby, UK) – See all my reviews

I give this one 8/10 simply for uniqueness. It's not a horror film, but if you can follow and swallow it The Unknown certainly is an unsettling experience. I don't think anyone has spoiled it yet for the unwary so for an explanation of why, the best thing to do is watch it! Suffice to report it's a tale of twisted love and the lengths a man's passion goes to ... to get his hands on the woman. Alonzo didn't understand women however!

Tod Browning sailed close to the edge as usual, and Lon Chaney put in a fine performance as a murderer on the run - I presume he was, from extrapolation of events in the 47 minute TCM UK TV version. Joan Crawford looked very pretty, before Hollywood really got hold of her and uglified her.

There's obviously many bits missing from this print, but by paying attention it's fairly straightforward to understand. I think it's worth it too, especially if you like silent films as I do. The scenes photographed through gauze were striking, but what was that all about?! Overall, different and slightly depressing - is the moral we men are all so desperate when infatuated with a woman?


12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone know wher e i can buy this? homeofleia
I saw it on TCM last night... drdebacle
masterpiece masterpiece masterpiece rflock
Cover Art Not Accurate xmaseve49
Discuss The Unknown (1927) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page