Thursday, April 8, 2010

Film #20: The Unknown (1927)

Let's be honest here.
There are just some professions that handicapped people shouldn't try.
Ray Charles wouldn't have made a very good cab driver.
Marlee Matlin would be a piss-poor telemarketer.
Wee Man would be dead after an hour if he worked as a police officer.
And we all saw what happened when a retarded man was elected President.

At first read, you might think the occupation of "armless knife thrower" would also fall into the above category. But watch "The Unknown," and you shall be proven wrong.

Stubby Alonzo is an apparent armless circus performer, who makes little children cry in horror as he performs his act -- tossing sharp knives with his feet at beautiful assistant Nanon.
Alonzo quickly falls in love with Nanon, who has more baggage than an L.A. bound airplane. Nanon can't stand the rough caress of a man. She has been pawed her entire life, and has swore off the beastly creatures and their lustful grabby-goating. This includes strong man Malabar the Mighty, who time after time has had his advances rebuffed by the feisty gal.

The only swinging-dick Nanon's comfortable with is Alonzo, who is physically unable to get his grab on. Or is he?!?!?! We soon find out that despite Alonzo's freakish ability to use his feet like his hands, he is actually a faker. He binds his arms by day, partly to hide his freaky double thumb, and partly to throw off police from a series of crimes he commits in each circus stop.

Alonzo loves Nanon so much, but he knows she won't have anything to do with him if she ever found out he has tentacles. In a brash move, Alonzo decides to have his arms hacked off for his love. But in the meantime ample armed Malabar is making progress on wearing the young beauty down. Nanon even starts to like his forearm play.
The irony is laid down thick in the 1927 silent picture "The Unknown."

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 3.6
Chris Dimick barks:
"Men will do anything to impress a lady. Anything. This is evident in "The Unknown," as main character and bonified man (I checked) Alonzo resorts to sawing his own arms off to get with a woman.
Now, I can't blame the brotha. He was just doing what men do... make stupid decisions and do even stupider things in order to win over the fairer sex. It is quite simple why men suffer for women, even kill their fellow man, to get into their favor. One word...lipstick.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, lipstick, beautiful, shiny, mouthwatering lipstick. I could be killed for divulging this info, but the truth must be told. All men secretly long to wear lipstick. And it is only when they are dating or married to a woman, Earth's most likely creature to own stick after stick of tube-paradise, that men have access to their secret thrill.

Why can't men just walk up to the MAC counter at Macy's and buy lipstick to their hearts content? If you are a man, you know this answer. But for all the ladies... a man could never bring himself to actually purchase lipstick from a store. That would be admitting we love lip-plumper. No, man's lust to be with a woman -- to the point of hacking off his appendages -- is for those glorious times when the girlfriend or wife leaves her home, giving the man unabashed access to her cosmetics cabinet.

Oh how we play! A man doesn't feel more safe and sexy than when he is applying Clinique Black Honey all over his naughty chompers. I won't even get into what a man does with NARS Orgasm Blush.

So ladies, the next time a man offers to stick his hands in a wood chipper, eat 1,000 hot dogs in 30 seconds, or go see "The Bounty Hunter" in an attempt to impress... know his reasoning.
And then lock your lipstick drawer.


N-Rating: 3.5
Nick Rich barks:
"Who knew I could have been a silent movie star? Unbeknown to me I have have been honing my skills to play an armless knife thrower my entire life! Hands full but need to open that door? Use your feet! Clothes on the floor, but it will take to long to bend over and pick it up? Use your feet! Need to flush the toilet while brushing your teeth and combing your beard? Use your feet! Ah, how sweet life would have been if I had been born in 1883...

But apparently life as and armless man has its downside (who knew?)! Armed with only his delusional love for the fair Nanon, Alonzo has quite a rough go of it in this film. I mean seriously. How much of a headcase do you have to be to think that you can get the woman of your dreams by fostering her hatred of manly arms, when you yourself secretly have ARMS!?! Normally this is exactly the kind of plot point that would drive bat-crazy, but in the soothing silence of this 1920's silver-toned piece of celluloid I really didn't mind.

The Unknown is what I'm coming to appreciate as classic America entertainment. You don't have to think, just sit back and relax (and because you enter into the film with said expectations, you aren't upset by the lack of depth). I noticed it first when we watched The Wolfman (which I graded rather harshly because I was expecting more), but I've come to realize there is also notable skill in creating a film that makes you not care that there is no deeper level to it.

I've also grown increasingly fond of American silent films. The fledgling film industry was so small that you frequently saw the same actors in film after film - for instance, the actors who played Alonzo and Malabar the strong man were the two leads in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (FACT: once I noticed who Malabar was, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl!). Usually, seeing the characters of a film as actors would make me think less of it (as it would take me out of the moment), but there's some sort of sweet magic about the silent era which made me feel even more connected to the film because of it! Throw in the surprisingly enjoyable extended closeups (Lon Chaney is mesmerizing to watch) with a side easy-going plot, and this film is sure to make you rethink your stance (if you've formulated one) on silent motion pictures.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're in the mood for some soulful eyes and sole-ful knife throwing (and smoking, and drinking)!

RDHP presents: A Tasteless Amputee Joke:

Q: Why can't an amputee sing well?

A: Because he can't hold a note. Can't carry a tune!

Quote of the Viewing:
[After some thought, Alonzo decides the only way he can have Nanon is to have his arms surgically removed]
Chris: "He wants her bad. I mean, he'd give an arm and a leg to have her! Well, two arms at least!"
Nick: "Booooooo!"

RDHP Salutes Lon Chaney: Man of 1,000 Faces
Silent movie star Lon Chaney never looked the same twice in his movies. The brilliant character actor behind the first film adaptations of the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Norte Dame came to be known as the "Man of a Thousand Faces" in Hollywood. In celebration of this amazing horror icon, we give you some of Chaney's best faces from throughout his career.

Phantom of the Opera (1925)

London After Midnight (1927)

Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

Mr. Wu (1927)

He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Lon Chaney Sr.
1883 - 1930

Things We Learned from Watching "The Unknown"
-Why this movie is called "The Unknown" is unknown to us
-Before the advent of training monkeys, handicapped people had midgets to assist them
-Joan Crawford, who played Nanon, was once attractive (see pic below)
-The cutoff time for laughing maniacally before becoming suspicious is 2 minutes
-Abused women think armless guys are hot
-Strong men in the 1920s weren't that strong looking
-Even in the 20s, women hated being touched

Things the RDHP Wish Were Silent:
The 1927 film "The Unknown" was made at the tail end of the silent era. The RDHP have come to quite enjoy these silent movies, mainly due to the fact that they are a relaxing oasis in the otherwise ear-splitting world. Here are a few other things in life we feel everyone would be better off not hearing.

Chris's Take (aka, Venting is Therapeutic):

Car horns
Enough with the friggin' honking already! Seriously, your douche-bag convention won't start until you get there, so chill out and wait for traffic to start moving, ass.

What is with all that chomping! Are you half horse? And seriously, is work really the best place for you to have a 30 minute cell phone conversation about how much Becky pissed you off. If you don't have enough work to keep you silent, I can give you some of mine!

Next-door Neighbors
It is common knowledge that getting ass-ramingly blown out on cocaine and screaming Lady Gaga songs at the top of your lungs is just so much more fun on a Tuesday night. Screaming is so fun, one just has to do it at random times regardless of how thin the apartment walls are. Yay!

Rush Limbaugh
This mutherf*$%er just needs to stop his cry-baby right-wing whining. Every time he opens his mouth, all that can actually be heard is jack-ass braying. And really, all he is doing is giving more mental ammo for those southern Michigan militia nuts to start firing off real rounds into politicians. Morality won last election, the rich lost. Get over it, and shut the hell up, you piece of sh*#.

Sarah Palin
See note above. Apply, rinse, repeat. Sarah, please crawl back under the tundra rock you came from. Only idiots think you are clever or folksy or whatever word you are using now to describe your stank-ass.
Guess what sweetie, by the time the next election comes around your quickly fading "beauty pageant" looks will be long gone, along with your chance of being elected to any office higher than PTA president. Your 15-minutes are working on an hour now, hag. Be silent!

Public Transportation Cell Phone Talkers
Everyone on the bus just loves hearing about how messed up you are going to get this weekend. Really, we do. But do you have to scream your mundane mouth-dribbling at the top of your lungs? Where is my real-world mute button, scientists? You can put Buzz Aldrin on the moon, kill him, then reanimate his lifeless corpse for a dancing show, but you can't give me a "shut-the-f-up remote?" For shame.

Celine Dion
Not one pleasant sound has ever come out of this mushhead's mouth hole. Celine, it is horrible, just as it has always been. Please stop signing... better yet, just be silent all together.

Movie Theater Patrons
If I have ever had the urge to kill, it is when people won't shut their big yappers in a theater. Oh, and those of you who think texting or checking your blinding bright phone during the movie is okay, you are assholes too.
But let's stick to the movie talkers. Please shut up before I put a gun in your month. I just bought one, and is waiting on the background check. The next person who talks after the opening credits, so help me...

Nick's Take (aka, We Promise He's Not Crazy):

Does the sound of the serrated edge of a dinner knife on one's teeth drive anyone else mad?
Am I alone in this one?
(crickets chirp) ...Hello?

Mouth Noises
My wife has sold me on the horrors and atrocities of mastication.

American Idol
This show (and its sounds) make me want to flee the country.

Cats In Heat - Especially at 4am
(tears hair out then laments the lack of more hair to tear out)

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