The Unknown (1927)

Joan Crawford,Lon Chaney
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 deformity of his left hand. As Alonzo continues to plot to steal Nanon away from Malabar, Cojo makes him realize that she will hate him once she discovers he has arms---and the deformity showing that he is her father's murderer. Alonzo decides to have both his arms amputated, which he succeeds in doing through blackmailing a surgeon. While Alonzo is away recuperating from the surgery, Nanon gets over her fear of being touched and falls completely in love with Malabar. Discovering this upon his return, Alonzo hatches a scheme to kill Malabar as he attempts his latest, most dangerous stunt.—Patrick Robbins
  • 29 May 1927 Released:
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  • Tod Browning Director:
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