The Unknown (1927)

The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

The Unknown Movie Review

The Unknown is a 1927 horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. It is such a great, truly a one of a kind movie.

………………………………………………………………..
 You are a riddle, Nanon. You shrink from me…
yet you kiss my flowers when I am gone
………………………………………………………………..
The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
It is about a serial killer who pretends to have no arms, but eventually decides to actually amputate them in order to be with a girl who is afraid of men’s hands. But the girl falls in love with another man and gets over her fear and you have that giant irony at the end. Yes, it is just unbelievable when you read this premise and realize that there is a movie with this exact plot, made during the silent era no less. And I just want to take a moment here and say how awesome the sheer existence of this movie is. And the fact that the movie stays away from those gruesome moments and never shows them on screen is even more commendable.
 The Unknown is fifty minutes long and although that is certainly very short, it still meant that it was consistently involving and truly it is one of the most purely entertaining silent films I’ve seen. The beginning is a bit rushed, but the pacing throughout is mostly deft and this is one of the examples of how a very short movie can be extremely satisfying and that not all stories need a regular running time.
 ………………………………………………………………..
The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

 Alonzo is such a memorable, very effective character. What I liked about his characterization is the fact that he is never made fully a villain and although despicable, you feel sympathy for him in the end as he was going through some extreme, awful situations. As for Malabar and Nanon, they aren’t the most memorable characters, but their relationship is well developed. As for the acting, both Norman Kerry and Joan Crawford are very good in their roles, but it is Lon Chaney who steals the show with probably his finest performance. He is so believable and gave the performance with just the right amount of theatricality and heart. His emotional scene where he breaks in laughter is easily the most powerful sequence in the film and a perfect showcase of his enormous acting talent.

 ………………………………………………………………..
The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
 The Unknown is so well edited and superbly directed by Tod Browning and this film is definitely one of his finest. It is also well filmed and I really liked how they filmed Chaney without hands as well as the whole circus setting that is greatly utilized. The use of intertitles is also fantastic and never excessive or too short.
 
The Unknown also has a solid dialogue and a great irony in it. It is without a doubt one of the most original films of its era and even of all time as there really isn’t anything quite like it. My jaw dropped more than a couple of times at the sheer craziness of the script and although it may sound too convenient and crazy, the execution is so good that it never felt excessive in its madness. The emotion is there and some scenes are heartbreaking. The meticulous detail went into this production not only in technical aspects, but also in terms of storytelling as the plot is so well crafted, extremely memorable and consistently rewarding.

 ………………………………………………………………..

The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
It succeeds as a horror movie because it is just so unnerving, but it also succeeds as a drama film because it has good characterization, acting and evident emotion. It is melodramatic, but satisfyingly so and never too sappy. Some of the highlights in terms of the scenes are the laughing scene which is just so perfectly constructed from beginning to end and powerfully acted by Lon Chaney, the end scene is also phenomenal and so intense, the murder sequence is so memorable as is the hospital one and every scene with Chaney/Alonzo is great as the character and actor steal this movie entirely. It isn’t a perfect movie as it is a bit too short, sometimes rushed and Nanon’s fear of men’s hands isn’t best explained, but overall, it is one of the best films of an extraordinary year and one of the most unforgettable pictures of the twenties.

 The Unknown is a bit too short and rushed, but ultimately rewarding in its crazy, authentic and jaw-dropping story and so well acted with Lon Chaney giving a truly powerful performance. It is a film that is consistently entertaining, but also truly unnerving at times, moving in its irony and so well constructed from beginning to end. It is one of the most original films ever created and one of the most purely entertaining films of the period.

My Rating – 4.5

………………………………………………………………..
Share
Posted in 1920s, 1927, Drama, FILM DECADES, Horror, MOVIE REVIEWS, Silent and tagged , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.