In the course of his career, Chaney actually made very few horror films but due to his preference for bizarre and often grotesque characters he has always been linked to this particular genre. Certainly, the character of Alonzo in The Unknown is one of his most disturbing creations and the most twisted film in his ten-year association with director Tod Browning. Chaney's performance certainly inspired co-star Joan Crawford who wrote "Lon Chaney was my introduction to acting. The concentration, the complete absorption he gave to his characterization filled me with such awe I could scarcely speak to him...watching him have me the desire to be a real actress."
It was widely believed at the time that Chaney really had learned to throw knives with his feet and light cigarettes with his toes for The Unknown. In some wide-angle scenes he does use his own feet but for medium and close-up shots Browning used a double named Dismuki who was born without arms. Later, Dismuki went on to tour with the Al G. Barnes Circus and Sideshow where he was billed as "The Man Who Doubled for Lon Chaney's Legs in The Unknown."
Director: Tod Browning
Producer: Irving G. Thalberg
Screenplay: Waldemar Young (based on a story by Tod Browning)
Cinematography: Merritt Gerstad
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Richard Day
Cast: Lon Chaney (Alonzo), Joan Crawford (Nanon), Norman Kerry (Malabar), John George (Cojo), Nick de Ruiz (Zanzi), Frank Lanning (Costra), Polly Moran (Landlady).
by Jeff Stafford