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The Unholy Three (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 12 July 1930 (USA)
"Talkie" remake of Tod Browning's 1925 silent film. A trio of former sideshow performers double as the "Unholy Three" in a scam to nab some shiny rocks.

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(from the book by) (as Clarence Aaron Robbins), (continuity and dialogue) | 1 more credit »
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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
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 | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A magician seeks vengeance upon the man who paralyzed him and the illegitimate daughter he sired with the magician's wife.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lon Chaney, Lionel Barrymore, Mary Nolan
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A gruff Marine sergeant and a handsome new recruit compete for the affection of a nurse.

Director: George W. Hill
Stars: Lon Chaney, William Haines, Eleanor Boardman
The Unknown (1927)
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Joan Crawford
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A naive small-town girl comes to New York City to meet her husband, and discovers that he may be a murderer.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Kim Hunter, Dean Jagger
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When an animal trapper in Indo-China finds that his daughter's fiancé is being successfully seduced by her estranged mother, he takes appropriate action.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lon Chaney, Lupe Velez, Estelle Taylor
Mr. Wu (1927)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When Mandarin Wu's unmarried daughter becomes pregnant by a young Englishman, he seeks vengeance.

Director: William Nigh
Stars: Lon Chaney, Louise Dresser, Renée Adorée
The Blackbird (1926)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two thieves, the Blackbird and West End Bertie, fall in love with the same girl, a French nightclub performer named Fifi. Each man tries to outdo the other to win her heart.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lon Chaney, Owen Moore, Renée Adorée
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A district attorney rises to political success and the governorship but loses his sense of morality once he starts associating with the shadowy and perhaps diabolical Nick Beal.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Ray Milland, Audrey Totter, Thomas Mitchell
Drama | Horror | 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 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
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Prosecuting Attorney
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Clarence Burton ...
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Defense Attorney
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Storyline

Professor Echo is a sideshow ventriloquist who recruits two sociopathic co-workers, Midge and Hercules, the show's midget and strong man respectively, into a burglary ring. Echo disguises himself as the elderly Mrs. O'Grady, the owner of a pet store, who sells talking parrots and mynah birds to a high-class clientèle with Hercules posing as his son-in-law married to Echo's pickpocket girlfriend Rosie and Midge passing as their infant son. Echo's ventriloquist skills initially convince the customers that their parrot can talk, but they're disappointed when they bring the mute bird home. A phone call of complaint brings Grandma O'Grady and her daughter's "baby" to the client's house to facilitate the bird's talking, an opportunity to case the house for a subsequent robbery by "The Unholy Three." Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Lon Chaney Talks See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

12 July 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A szentségtelen hármas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Known as "The Man of 1000 Faces", Chaney signed a legal affidavit declaring all the voices he performed in this, his only talking film, were actually his own. Thus, in addition to multiple characters, he performed multiple voices. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sideshow Barker: This is just a little sample of what you will see on the inside. The beginning of the religious dance of the muscleman. This is the dance that broke the sultan's thermometer! Just a moment there, the big sensations for the inside. Remember I said, the big sensation on the inside. The admission is a dime, ten cents or ten part of a dollar.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Sweet Rosie O'Grady
(1896) (uncredited)
Written by Maude Nugent
Sung a cappella by Lon Chaney through his dummy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting, if improbable, tale in typical Chaney mode...
13 January 2005 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

LON CHANEY delivers an interesting performance (especially when posing as a kindly old woman), but not even the great Chaney can overcome all the defects in this remake of the 1925 silent.

For starters, the performances around him include two extremely bad examples of early screen acting--from awkward Lila Lee and a young man who would later turn his talent to directing rather than acting--Elliot Nugent. Nugent has the hapless role of an innocent, naive young man and plays it in hopelessly nerd style--a foretaste, perhaps, of his Broadway role as the timid professor in THE MALE ANIMAL. Anyway, his is the weakest performance in the film with Lila not far behind.

The tale itself is interesting enough to hold the attention--and especially chilling is the malice (pure evil) displayed by Harry Earle as the malevolent midget. Unfortunately, most of his dialogue is unintelligible due to his German accent, something director Jack Conway should have noted.

Only real satisfaction is watching Lon Chaney in one of his last roles. He is excellent and makes it painful to realize he was fighting throat cancer while filming was underway. A better script, production values, and tighter direction by Conway would have worked wonders to make this tale more chilling and believable.

Summing up: At best, it is an interesting example of Chaney's considerable talent despite the primitive acting technique displayed by Lila Lee and Elliot Nugent. Nugent's performance makes one grateful he switched to directing later in his career, with more satisfying results.


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