Myrna Loy, 1926

Myrna Loy 1926 - a

Myrna Loy 1926 - b

Myrna Loy from Don Juan, 1926.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

One Way Passage, 1932

William Powell and Kay Francis

Classic doomed romance film: She's terminal and he's on his way back to the states to sit in the electric chair. Directed by Tay Garnett, starring Kay Francis and William Powell. Also has Aline MacMahon and Frank McHugh.

Greer Garson, 1950

Greer Garson 1950

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren 5000

More Sophia Loren

Frames from the film Phaedra, 1962

Phaedra 1962 - directed by Jules Dassin 1

Phaedra 1962 - directed by Jules Dassin 2

Phaedra 1962 - directed by Jules Dassin 3

Phaedra 1962 - directed by Jules Dassin 4

This stark black and white 1962 film directed by Jules Dassin (and starring Melina Mercouri and Anthony Perkins) was an adaptation of the tragic story of Phaedra, Theseus and Hippolytus, modernized here to Phaedra, Alexis and Thanos.

Sports cars, a shipping company magnate (and his problems), a sullen son without a sense of any direction, and a bored wife collide with the cinema expectations for actress Melina Mercouri who became famous for the hit film Never on Sunday, in 1960.

Joan Crawford, 1928

Joan Crawford Dream of Love 1928

The Raven, 1963

Karloff the Raven 1963

Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Vincent Price.

Betty Hutton, 1948

Betty Hutton

Grace Kelley

Grace Kelley

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Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck

Lon Chaney - The Unknown

The Unknown Lon Chaney

No matter how you describe this silent film from 1927 (Directed by Tod Browning) you end up with something strange and demented.

An armless knife-throwing circus performer (Chaney as Alonzo, who uses his feet for almost everything) is hiding from the law beneath the big top (a trope that was used for Jimmy Stewart in Cecil B. DeMille's much different The Greatest Show on Earth).

Joan Crawford

Chaney's armless wonder falls in love with fellow performer Nanon (Joan Crawford), a psychologically scarred and bitter young woman who loathes men, especially (as shown in a key scene) mens hands. Alonzo and Nanon's shared misanthropic hatred of the world and their friendship are one of the few comforts they have in the difficult life of circus.

Joan Crawford and Long CHaney

Seems like a perfect match between Nanon and Alonzo, but Alonzo isn't all that he seems: he's actually a professional criminal with two perfectly good arms (which he keeps bound to his body by special straps. And accenting Browning's hints of duality inside Chaney's character, Alonzo also has two thumbs on his left hand). Alonzo is aided (and egged on, like Iago poisoning Othello with words) by dwarf assistant Cojo (John George).

Cojo and Lon Chaney

In one particular night scene, as Alonzo contemplates his crazed plan to attain Nanon, Cojo helps him to unbind and release his strapped up arms. Numbed from the tight stricture of the disguise he must wear all the time, Alonzo must beat on his arms to bring them back to life. Then returning his attention to building his mental plan, he lights a cigarette with his feet and moodily smokes, staring into space as his thoughts gather. Cojo watching realizes that Alonzo never uses his arms, they lie dead beside him, that even when unbound Alonzo continues to do everything with his legs and feet. He tells this to Alonzo who looks at his arms in horror - - his alienation from his limbs seems to define them a separate identity.

Alonzo's determination to be with Nanon is without reason or any sense of the cost involved. Alonzo blackmails a distant doctor in a different town into cutting off his two healthy arms so that he really will be armless, and ready to propose marriage to Nanon.

Lon CHnaey and Arms - The Unknown

Meanwhile, Nanon has had her world view rehabilitated by Malabar the circus strongman (Norman Kerry), a handsome, muscular fellow with a happy disposition. He coaxes Nanon out of her hatred and fear toward a new life. When Alonzo returns from his crazed medical holiday, he rushes to Nanon to propose, but then discovers that Malabar and Nanon have already pledged marriage to one another. Realizing he has sacrificed his arms (and more) for nothing, Alonzo's iffy mental state crumbles into a homicidal plan to destroy Malabar.

The Unknown Poster

Like other Browning films, the buried themes (besides frustrated mad love) inside the story are obsessions about emasculation and fear of insanity.

Director Todd Browning and star Lon Chaney seemed to have had a lot of fun making this movie. Browning had a long history in the world of carnivals before making films, and Chaney and Browning combine that milieu (disguised as a gypsy carnival) with their crazed plot line about duality, love, hate and murder.

The Unknown Movie Card

Cary Grant, 1949

Cary Grant 1949 - Ronny Jacques

Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1958

Zsa Zsa Gabor 1958

Doris Day

Doris Day

Kay Francis

Kay Francis

More Kay Francis

Marilyn Monroe, 1953

Marilyn Monroe 1953

Promo for How to Marry A Millionaire, 1953

More Marilyn Monroe

Kim Novak, Vertigo

Kim Novak Vertigo

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