starring Lon Chaney, Mae Busch, Matt Moore, Victor McLaglen and Harry Earles


October, 1925

You who were touched by "the Miracle Man" will find in this graphic depiction of crook characters plotting a diabolical scheme of villainy a drama of far greater power and consequence. It has uncanny touches of realism; it has vivid surprises and overpowering suspense. Three fakers decide the world owes them a living, and the manner in which they hoodwink everyone - particularly the ventriloquist, played with superb shading and unerring effects by Lon Chaney, will grip you thru its sheer intensity and feeling. It is one of the big things of the cinema year.

starring Lon Chaney, Mae Busch, Matt Moore, Victor McLaglen and Harry Earles
August, 1925

It is very hard to praise a thing without restraint. Enthusiasm is apt to sound mawkish, and unlimited admiration seems to turn to saccharine. The things we don't like make us more fluent than the things we do. All this is to explain why it is hard for me to say very much about "The Unholy Three." I liked it too much to be very clear about it. To me it is a fine picture, about the best I have every seen. I say "about the best," because I don't want to have to take anything back later.

Now to business. "The Unholy Three," is a Metro-Goldwyn picture with Lon Chaney, Mae Busch, and Matt Moore. It was directed by Tod Browning, and his folks certainly are going to be proud of him when they see it. Usually even the best pictures will have dull moments when the man three rows back of you with a cough suddenly becomes an annoyance, but in this picture a school of whooping cough patients could scarcely be noticed. I have never seen suspense so deliberate and so terrifying. It has the gripping quality of Poe's story "The Pit and the Pendulum."

I am afraid that you will be disappointed when I tell you that it is a story of the underworld. I have always been a little partial to stage criminals, never having known any real ones, and anybody's story of a big-hearted boy who cracks safes because no one ever told him it was bad holds my attention. But this is very, very different. It is a story of three crooks. One is a dwarf in the side show of a circus; one is the strong man, and the third is a ventriloquist. At first they all seem equally bad, but the two subnormal crooks, the dwarf and the giant, become murderers while the ventriloquist, with his normal mind, hears the story of the murder with horror. From this point on, things begin to happen. I am not going to tell you the plot and spoil it all.

Mae Busch does the best work she has ever done as Rosie O'Grady, a pickpocket, and Lon Chaney is perfect as Echo, the ventriloquist. I am glad to see him looking like himself again. There are some scenes where a large baboon frolics about a bit, and for one horrid minute I thought it might be Mr. Chaney gone back to the old life, but I was assured it wasn't.

Matt Moore is the pleasant young fellow who doesn't know what it is all about.

There is plenty of heart interest and reform, too, for those who can't take their crooks as they find them in life as it is lived.

Return to reviews page