7.8/10
6,269
105 user 46 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:

Tod Browning

Writers:

Tod Browning (story), Waldemar Young (scenario) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

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
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 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
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
Horror
    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 Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

"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.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Lon Chaney, Lila Lee, Elliott Nugent
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
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 | 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
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
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A romantic rivalry among members of a secret society becomes even tenser when one of the men is assigned to carry out an assassination.

Director: Wallace Worsley
Stars: Lon Chaney, Leatrice Joy, John Bowers
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 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
The Eagle (1925)
Action | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A wanted Russian lieutenant becomes a masked vigilante seeking vengeance upon the man who stole his family's land, only to fall for his charming daughter.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Rudolph Valentino, Vilma Bánky, Louise Dresser
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lon Chaney ... Alonzo
Norman Kerry ... Malabar
Joan Crawford ... Nanon
Nick De Ruiz Nick De Ruiz ... Zanzi
John George ... Cojo
Frank Lanning ... Costra
Edit

Storyline

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 <elfdorado@sbcglobal.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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)


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 June 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alonzo the Armless See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$217,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$406,600, 31 December 1927
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BFI print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The re-release in Spain was only in Madrid (by Artistic Metropol) and only in subtitled version. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Malabar the Mighty, Circus Strongman: There is a time for fear, Nanon... and a time for hate... and a time for love.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Turner library print has a commissioned score by the Alloy Orchestra and runs 49 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Woman Next Door (1981) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
You can't do a movie like that anymore

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.


7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 105 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed