IMDb > The Unknown (1927)
The Unknown
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The Unknown (1927) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.9/10   4,673 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Tod Browning (story)
Waldemar Young (scenario)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Unknown on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
4 June 1927 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A thrill if you can look the other way now and then--Crawford comes alive See more (94 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Lon Chaney ... Alonzo
Norman Kerry ... Malabar

Joan Crawford ... Nanon
Nick De Ruiz ... Zanzi
John George ... Cojo
Frank Lanning ... Costra
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Louise Emmons ... Gypsy Woman (uncredited)
Italia Frandi ... Girl in Audience Flirting with Malabar (uncredited)
Venezia Frandi ... (unconfirmed) (uncredited)
Julian Rivero ... Man in Audience (uncredited)
Billy Seay ... The Little Wolf (uncredited)
John St. Polis ... Surgeon (uncredited)

Directed by
Tod Browning 
 
Writing credits
Tod Browning (story)

Waldemar Young (scenario)

Joseph Farnham (titles) (as Joe Farnham)

Mary Roberts Rinehart  novel "K" (uncredited)

Cinematography by
Merritt B. Gerstad (photography) (as M. Gerstad)
 
Film Editing by
Harry Reynolds (film editor)
Errol Taggart (film editor)
 
Set Decoration by
Richard Day (settings)
Cedric Gibbons (settings)
 
Stunts
Paul Desmuke .... stunt double (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Clarence Sinclair Bull .... still photographer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Lucia Coulter .... wardrobe
 
Music Department
Jack Feinberg .... set musician (uncredited)
Sam Feinberg .... set musician (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
63 min (23 fps) | UK:49 min (BFI print) | USA:49 min (alternate version)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Joan Crawford always considered The Unknown (1927) a big turning point for her. She said it wasn't until working with Lon Chaney in this film that she learned the difference between standing in front of a camera and acting in front of a camera. She said that was all due to Lon Chaney and his intense concentration, and after that experience she said she worked much harder to become a better actress.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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:
Alonzo the Armless:No one will get her... no one but me!See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)See more »

FAQ

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
A thrill if you can look the other way now and then--Crawford comes alive, 27 January 2010
Author: secondtake from United States

The Unknown (1927)

We can see The Unknown today and say, wow, look at the young Joan Crawford. And she does help make this movie come alive, more than even Lon Chaney, who was the big draw for audiences in 1927. Crawford's spark (inspired by Chaney, by her own account), and her character's phobia of men's hands (which she explains quite reasonably, having been groped too many times against her will) make her curious and very sympathetic. She's terrific to watch, and the metaphor of abuse against women is not lost on anyone paying attention.

But Crawford was essentially unknown back then, and the movie depended on the name, and the high dramatics, of Chaney and the other lead male, the charming, somewhat overly chipper strong man in this huge sideshow of a movie. Both are good enough in their roles, Chaney pulling out all the stops in a performance that might be bravura or might just be virtuosic indulgence, probably a bit of both.

And the movie depends on the story itself, the plot, the strange and gruesome series of events, which are gripping at times even if you know what's coming all too well. For viewers then as much as now, there is also the whole milieu, director Tod Browning's leaning to the macabre and the small time circus. This will see a more amazing fruition five years alter in Freaks, shortly after his very successful Dracula (with its self-sustaining sideshow of bizarre, legendary types). But here we have Browning at the end of the silent era, pushing gestures and expressions outward in the place of sound. It's a bit strained, and with the sensational plot, the whole movie lacks subtlety and depth.

What it doesn't lack is high drama, though, and a few surprises. At times touching, at times simply shocking (in its own way), it's enjoyable, and never really flags, which some "better" silent films like Broken Blossoms can't claim. So forget beauty, or elegance or emotional insight and you might really like this.

Oh, and Chaney? He is a marvel of his time, and this film shows him in one of his best roles as an actor, one of many. The armless man is yet another echo of the horrors of mutilated soldiers coming home from World War I and their inability to really assimilate and be accepted. The fact that his character is obsessed with Crawford's we might understand, but it's a love that we don't sympathize with after awhile.

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