In this early collaboration with director Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks), Chaney delivers a dual performance of dramatic intensity, starring as Ah Wing, a kind-hearted student of Confucian ... See full summary »
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Alonzo is an armless knife thrower and gun shooter for a circus---or so he appears. He is actually a criminal with his arms intact. He and his accomplice, Cojo (a little person), are hiding from the police. 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 criminal the police are searching for. Nanon, the daughter of Zanzi, the circus owner, is the target in his act. Although Alonzo is in love with her, Nanon's father despises him. Malabar, the circus strong man, is attracted to Nanon but she is repulsed by his uninhibited sexual advances and desire to touch and hold her. Her phobia extends to the touch of any man's hand. 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 ...Written by
Patrick Robbins <email@example.com>
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)
The only known surviving prints are missing about 14 minutes of footage, mainly from the film's first half and depicting Alonzo's criminal career. See more »
When we first 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 »
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.
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The Turner library print has a commissioned score by the Alloy Orchestra and runs 49 minutes. See more »
One of the strong points of silent movies is that they are naive in the positive meaning of the word: they are creative.
If anyone does a story like that today, one has to choose to do a drama, a thriller or a black comedy. Browning did not have to choose... he just made a very strange film.
Another plus is the use of running time. No fillers. Just 60 minutes of strange ideas. The film is not perfect; and not anyone will enjoy it. But it features a great performance by Lon Chaney and nice photography (incl. creative use of backprojection). And if you like FREAKS, you have to see this one... the background of Browning as a circus assistant really shows up (though I hope, it wasn't that bad).
Sorry, no story details. I don't want to ruin your fun.
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