Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Now that's a movie! The Unknown, a 1927 silent movie starring Lon Chaney was thought for some time to have been lost. Thank goodness it was rediscovered. I've read that it is an outstanding early "horror" outing by the great man. I got a chance to see this last night and again this morning and I was simply blown away by the overwhelming power of Chaney's performance as "Alonzo the Armless". His intensity is utterly fascinating. I cannot frankly remember a more powerful performance on film. Chaney's face is able to communicate the finest of shifts in mood and thought, making him ideal for the silent form.
This is a tale of old Spain and a circus which fall on bad times after the murder of its owner. The central tale is about the obsessive love Alonzo has for Nanon, the daughter of the owner who doesn't realize that Alonzo is quite literally madly in love with her. She on the other hand seems quite the catch for an armless man since she has a dread of being groped. Another member of the circus, a strong man named Malabar loves her too and that's the rub.
I don't want to say too much about this absorbing and intense movie. Rather let me just show it. Here in six segments is the complete movie. If you've seen it before, I'm sure you'll know what the great surprises are, and if perchance you haven't, the less said the better.
Here is The Unknown directed by Tod Browning and starring Long Chaney and a very fetching Joan Crawford.