Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Unknown (1927)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Unknown (1927)

  • the fickle character of Nanon (Joan Crawford), the daughter of circus owner Antonio Zanzi (Nick De Ruiz), who complained and confided in "armless" circus knife-throwing performer Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) (actually a fugitive criminal on the run posing as armless) that she had a phobia about men - she disliked males who wanted to always touch her: "Alonzo, all my life men have tried to put their beastly hands on paw over me. I have grown so that I shrink with fear when any man even touches me"
  • to win her love, Alonzo actually submitted to extreme double-amputation arm surgery to please her; when he recovered and returned, he admitted to her: "I have lost some flesh"; but then to his shock and dismay, she announced her surprise wedding to suitor Malabar the Mighty (Norman Kerry), the circus strongman, and said that she had changed her mind, as her fiancee caressed her: "Remember how I used to be afraid of his hands? I am not any more. I love them now"
  • the scene of Alonzo's reaction with mad laughter and then unconsolable crying until his body shook and he collapsed, as Nanon downplayed the incident: "Alonzo is laughing at the way everything has happened" until she realized he was seriously hurt and pained; when he slightly recovered, he wiped his face with a handkerchief (held by his foot) and told her that his heart was broken: "It was just something in here that stung like the lash of a whip"
  • the climactic and tense sequence of Alonzo's insane revenge and sabotage against Malabar during his strong-man act (his arms appeared to be pulled in two different directions by horses, who were running on hidden conveyor belt treadmills); but the homicidal attempt went horribly wrong and Alonzo was stomped and killed by one of the horses as he went to save Nanon from harm; the epilogue read: "So...for Alonzo there was an end to Hate called Death...and for Nanon, an end to Hate...called Love"


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