Starring John Gilbert and Renee Adoree
March 19, 1927

John Gilbert's good acting seems to be able to put any part over; although he is this time given the part of a circus crook, he makes it so human that one cannot help but admire him. The story is interesting, and many of the situations are comical. A few of them are suspensive, too, one, in particular, being tensely so. This situation is where the villain takes a poisonous lizard to his (the hero's) habitation with the intention of having it bite the hero and kill him. One will be made to hold one's breath for fear lest the lizard bite the hero. The closing scenes, which show the regeneration of the hero, are pathetic. The plot has been founded on the story by Charles Tenney Jackson; it has been directed skillfully by Tod Browning from a scenario by Waldemar Young. Miss Adoree, too, as the heroine, does good work. Lionel Barrymore is good as the villain.

The story unfolds in Hungary and revolves around a hero, a circus performer, and a crook. He meets a young girl, who had come to the city with her wealthy sheepherder father, and makes her believe that he loved her. The father is murdered by the villain, also connected with the circus, for the purpose of robbing him of the money he had received out of a sale of sheep. But he does not find the money, the dead man having left it with his daughter. The daughter is disconsolate when she learns of the death of her father; she takes the money and goes to the hero for advice. The hero takes her to his habitation, intending to take the money and then abandon the girl. The heroine, however, also a circus woman who loved the hero but who was not loved by him, urges him to return the money to save himself of trouble. The heroine's sweetheart, out of jealousy, determines to murder the hero; he hides a poisonous lizard in the hero's room. The hero learns from the heroine that a blind man, who had been waiting for his son, was her father and that she had made the old man believe that his son would return from the army, hiding from him the fact that he was to be executed for a crime he had committed. On the morning of the execution, the hero recognizes how noble the heroine is and is moved. An officer of the law enters to arrest the hero for having taken the murdered man's daughter's money away from her, but the hero hides in the attic. The officer sees the poisonous lizard and shoots at him. He kills the lizard but the bullet strikes also the villain who is killed. The hero searches the dead villain, finds the money, which the villain had stolen from him, delivers it to the officer and tells him he is ready to follow him. The hero is exonerated of the theft and the sheepherder's murder. The love of the heroine reforms him.

Starring John Gilbert, Renee Adoree and Lionel Barrymore
July, 1927

I guess Tod Browning can't forget that thriller of yesteryear, "The Unholy Three." He had us all shivering with suspense and staring pop-eyed at the uncanny chain of events and queer doings in that number. In attempting to duplicate it, he has shot wide of the mark.

"The Unholy Three" was of such an unusual character in its depiction of side-show freaks earning a shady living -- that any attempt to imitate it is disastrous unless there is real motivation and characterization behind it. This is what "The Show" lacks -- and not even the presence of John Gilbert and Renée Adorée are able to lift it out of the rut of mediocrity in which its plot has placed it.

The background is a European sideshow with Gilbert playing the role of the barker. He doubles in one of the acts and carries on a flirtation with a girl or three at the same time he is professing to be constant to Renée. It gets very creepy and snaky -- especially when a Gila monster starts to leap and bite. 'Tis not a pretty thing by any means.

The performers do their stuff -- become involved in romantic entanglements and what-not. The villain goes Desmond with a vengeance and the heart interest is entirely out of order. There is no apparent reason for introducing a sentimental old blind man. He makes four distinct entrances into the heroine's room for the purpose of repeating his pet topic about his boy.

The film offered possibilities at the start. It has a certain tension in its scenes which aids the suspense, but after the early episodes, it becomes bewildering -- and finally sloughs off into an orthodox ending.

starring John Gilbert, Renee Adoree and Lionel Barrymore
June, 1927

"The Show" doesn't quite get over, on the whole, as fully as John Gilbert's vivid acting as Cock Robin deserves. It is a melodrama of a Budapest side show, and Gilbert plays the barker - vain, cruel, unscrupulous - with authority and zest. It is quite unlike any of his other roles, and one can easily understand his enthusiasm for it. This makes it doubly regrettable that the picture moves slowly and lacks an arresting quality, in spite of a novel background and colorful hocus-pocus on the stage of the side show. Renee Adoree, photographed to her disadvantage, plays Salome, Cock Robin's inamorata, but for some reason she is listless. There is the villainous Greek, done by Lionel Barrymore, a stupid country girl who blindly adores Cock Robin, and an old man, who is made to believe by Salome that his criminal son is a brave soldier. It is her kind deception that seemingly brings about a great reformation in Cock Robin's character, when he discovers it; but it left me unconvinced of anything except the scenario writer's hard work, and Gilbert's efforts to vivify it.

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