As with Browning's Freaks, one wonders how MGM ever got conned into making this resplendent study in morbid psychology. As much a casebook as a horror movie, it tells the truly marvellous tale of Alonzo the Armless Wonder (Chaney, of course), who uses his feet to perform a circus knife-throwing act. Only masquerading as armless (wanted by the police for a strangling, he's concealing the telltale evidence of a hand with two thumbs), he falls for pretty Estrellita (Crawford), the bareback rider. But she has a trauma about being touched by men, so he besottenly decides to have his arms amputated, only to find a handsome strong man emerging as a successful rival for her heart, cue for a fiendishly vengeful Grand Guignol finale staged during the strong man's act. One of the great silent movies, astonishing in its intensity, this is by far the best of the remarkable series of Browning/ Chaney collaborations.
Cast and crew
Nick de Ruiz