Directed by: Tod Browning
Written by: Tod Browning & Waldemar Young
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Runtime: 50 Minutes
Certainly one of the darker films, if not the darkest, piece of work silent film star Lon Chaney and director Tod Browning collaborated and created. Once more Chaney gives a remarkable performance to the screen as Alonzo, the armless. The story is short, but in this 50 minute feature you’re in for a great ride. Browning is one of the great mysteries of film history. His life story is filled with contradictions (some he created himself). No one argues the fact that he was the architect of the classic American horror film Dracula (1931), with Bela Lugosi as Dracula. His success is one that is grounded in his macabre but decidedly non-supernatural silent works. Beyond that the story gets cloudy. Then we all know the idea of his film Freaks, which results were so horrific it basically destroyed his career. The Unknown is a pretty dark story but is highly entertaining and is one of the greatest last silent films, as 4 months later the fir talkie arrived, The Jazz Singer.
|Nanon in the circus act|
A short but excellent story
There is a great irony to the story that gives it it’s rush of excitement. It shows to what extent people go to at time for love and the story is truly excellent for it’s length. Once more silent film legend Lon Chaney provides a wondrous performance as he has with previous silent films before this. There is so much to comment on with the story, but doing that would utterly ruin the plot. There are plenty of characters and a high amount of suspense to keep you entertained for it’s 50 minute runtime.
It is a drama of obsession that is still shocking nearly 85 years later, and the extremes of which I am not about to divulge here. You will have to see it for yourself to witness the film’s dark glory. In conclusion,The Unknown may be short, but it’s dark and twisted story gives it edge and excitement enough to keep the modern day viewer enthralled.
Visuals & Editing: 8/10
Direction & Cinematography: 8.4/10