The Unknown


The Unknown is by far the most intense and demented of director Tod Browning’s films (which include Dracula and Freaks). Joan Crawford always said that she learned more about acting from working with Chaney in this movie than from everything else in her long career put together, and critics often cite Chaney’s performance as one of the greatest ever captured on film. Burt Lancaster always maintained that Chaney’s portrayal in The Unknown was the most emotionally compelling film performance he had ever seen an actor give. Chaney also did remarkable and convincing collaborative scenes with real-life armless double Paul Desmuke (sometimes credited as Peter Dismuki), whose legs and feet were used to manipulate objects such as knives and cigarettes in frame with Chaney’s upper body and face.