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The Unholy Three

Released Aug 16, 1925 1h 9m Crime Drama Romance List
88% Tomatometer 8 Reviews 79% Audience Score 500+ Ratings A side-show ventriloquist (Lon Chaney) forms an underground trio with a strongman and a midget. Read More Read Less Watch on Prime Video Stream Now

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The Unholy Three

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Critics Reviews

View All (8) Critics Reviews
Edmund Wilson The New Republic The Unholy Three is admirably acted by Miss Mae Busch and Mr. Lon Chaney. The latter is a moving-picture actor of a unique and singular reputation. Jul 14, 2021 Full Review Mordaunt Hall New York Times After viewing this production the figures that have passed upon the screen still cling to one's mind, and one feels like talking about the strange and unusual tale. Rated: 4/5 Jun 10, 2009 Full Review Dave Kehr Chicago Reader Browning's obsession with deformity, sexual aberration, and death yielded many great moments but few wholly satisfying films -- up until his masterpiece of 1932, Freaks. Jun 10, 2009 Full Review Robert E. Sherwood LIFE A singularly fine picture. Oct 6, 2021 Full Review Film4 Staff Film4 As the dynamics of the odd trio change, the macabre observations and remarkable visuals are expertly handled, making this a much-under-rated silent. Jun 10, 2009 Full Review TV Guide It is one of Lon Chaney's best movies and biggest hits, about a trio of sideshow "freaks" who become criminals to get revenge on "normal" society. Rated: 4/5 Jun 10, 2009 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (48) audience reviews
Audience Member The first of eight movies that Lon Chaney would make with director Tod Browing (The Blackbird, The Road to Mandalay, London After Midnight, The Unknown, The Big City, West of Zanzibar and Where East Is East are the others), Tweedledee (Harry Earles) is a small man who leaves the circus when he assaults a young heckler and starts a riot. He's joined by the incredibly strong Hercules (Victor McLaglen), Professor Echo (Chaney), a ventriloquist who becomes pet shop owner Mrs. O'Grady and his pickpocket girlfriend Rosie O'Grady (Mae Busch), who pretends to be his granddaughter. Their new scam? Sell pets, deliver them and come back and steal everything. Their scheme brings in the innocent Hector McDonald (Matt Moore), who falls for Rosie. Browning was always using the duality of identity in his films and this one has every character nearly becoming someone else, but their crimes bind them. The Unholy Three was remade in 1930, directed by Jack Conway. Chaney returned as Echo and Earles as Tweedledee, while Hercules would be played by Ivan Linow and Rosie by Lila Lee. This movie proved that Chaney was not only the Man of a Thousand Faces, but also the Man of A Thousand Voices. It's the only film in his career where Chaney would speak. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review andy f This is more a review of the 1930 talkie version which is easier going (and you can't post on that page). It is almost a blow by blow remake of this silent version although a key part of the court scene is not included. The 1930 version is of course noteworthy because it is Chaney's only spoken role and he's pretty good in it. The cast of the talkie is stronger overall and only one or two of the scenes are lesser. Harry Earles is majestic in both. Bizarre and captivating with a black humour throughout. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Lon Chaney (Sr.) plays a ventriloquist who joins with the strong man (Victor McLaughlin) and a little person (Harry Earles, who later appeared in Browning's Freaks) to create a band of thieves, the Unholy Three, when the circus breaks up. As a front, Chaney opens a bird store, disguised as an old woman, and they rob rich customers who buy parrots; parrots who funnily talk when they are in the store but never talk at home - until Granny (Chaney) comes to visit them (and case their homes). But things begin to go sour when Chaney's girl (Mae Busch) falls for the employee of the bird shop and the other members of the Unholy Three kill someone in the midst of a robbery. They try to pin it on the employee, resulting in a court case with his life hanging in the balance. A gigantic and ferocious chimp plays a key role in the action (apparently shot with camera tricks to look larger). The whole shebang is well-paced (as in all silence features, the music plays a big role) and suspenseful - but then it wraps up with an unexpected happy ending. Passed by the Board of Censors indeed! Browning and Chaney push things into much darker territory subsequently with The Unknown (1927), also set in a circus and featuring Chaney as an armless knife-thrower and Joan Crawford as the woman he desires - the latter film is more highly recommended. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member Can't decide if Lon Chaney is scarier looking covered in make-up and prosthetics, or without. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member A stunning Lon Chaney Snr Silent Masterpiece about an unwholesome trio who plan to steal a fortune from a very kind man. Three people band together to pull a heist & there is one particular scene where the police interrogate the three & unwillingly play with a toy elephant which is in fact the storage of the jewels...the tension is unreal. As much as it is a strange film it is quite a human film & there is a particular shot near the end of the film where Lon Chaney speaks so clearly through his eyes. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Audience Member A fascinating, quirky little film. I'm not real sure that the plot holds up - there are a lot of questions and holes about the very premise and execution of their plan, why it falls apart, and how it ends. However, if you're not worried about a consistent crime drama - this works quite well as a bizarre character tale. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Unholy Three

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis A side-show ventriloquist (Lon Chaney) forms an underground trio with a strongman and a midget.
Director
Tod Browning
Producer
Irving Thalberg
Screenwriter
Clarence Aaron "Tod" Robbins, Waldemar Young
Distributor
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Production Co
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Genre
Crime, Drama, Romance
Release Date (Theaters)
Aug 16, 1925, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 13, 2021
Runtime
1h 9m
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