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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A superb mystery thriller, unusual and startling even for a Chaney film. Lon as "The Unknown" eats, drinks, shoots a rifle and dresses with his feet. Don't miss this startling spectacle. (Print Ad- The Cobbleskill Index,((Cobbleskill, NY)) 13 October 1927)
Director Tod Browning loosely based the story on a real event of his circus days, where a man masqueraded as an acrobat to evade the police. See more »
When Alonzo and Cojo are drinking wine, the glass suddenly fills between shots. See more »
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?
Why isn't he different from other men! Why doesn't he keep his hands off me?
Hands! Men's hands! How I hate them!
Men! The beasts! God would show wisdom if he took the hands from all of them!
Forgive me, Alonzo... I did not mean you.
You are the one man I can come to without fear.
See more »
"The Unknown" has to have one of the strangest plots of any movie I've seen, but I can't describe it without spoiling it. Suffice to say; coming from the mind of Tod Browning who set the story in a traveling carnival, you know it's going to be delving into some heavy weirdness.
"The Unknown" is a silent film starring Lon Chaney, Sr., as carnival star Alonzo the Armless, an expert with gun and knife, who, because of his condition, must use his feet instead of hands. His assistant and unrequited love interest is Nanon, played by a very young and beautiful Joan Crawford. There's a love triangle between these two and the carnival strong man, and oh, what Alonzo won't do to win his ladylove.
My only regret is that I saw the 49-minute version taped off of Turner Classic Movies, and the movie does go by quickly. Short as it is though, it's a weird and entertaining trip.
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