|Joan Crawford publicity shot for The Unknown|
The wedding bells would be ringing by now except for the fact that Joan really has no feelings for Alonzo and Alonzo is not who he appears to be. Get this, Alonzo is a criminal on the run. His hands are easily identified because he has two thumbs on one hand. So to hide, he pretended to be armless and landed a job at the circus. This plot keeps getting better and better. Alonzo is hellbent on making Joanie/Nanon his wife. When his midget assistant remarks that on their wedding night Nanon will realize that Alonzo has other ~functioning members~, Alonzo is determined to not let this problem stop him. Nothing will stand in his way of making Nanon his wife, not even his hidden arms. Not his past, not his subterfuge, and certainly not Malabar.
|Malabar, you in danger gurl|
Thankfully, a great performance by Chaney saves and makes the film. We watch Alonzo scheme and plot, all in order to get what he wants. He has no scruples. As played by Lon Chaney, Alonzo becomes one of the most chilling villains I've ever come across. Chaney is beyond amazing in this role. There is a scene later in the film where he receives some not-so-pleasant news. He goes from laughing maniacally to crying hysterically to being visibly upset/looking physically ill and then to slump down defeated. And the scene only lasts for less than five minutes. It was one of the best five minutes of my life.
Lasting only 50 minutes, The Unknown makes for a short and satisfying watch bearing a wonderful performance from Chaney and a slightly cheesy albeit fascinating plot. While I didn't like some of the elements of the plot individually, as a whole all the cheesiness creates a great mood and atmosphere for the film. The Unknown does not take itself too seriously. It's neither the story of two star-crossed lovers or a look inside the mind of a madman. It's just good old, unadulterated fun. It is definitely a film worth checking out.
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