Tonight and Tomorrow at MOMA: “The Unknown” Restored!

Sorry for the last minute bulletin, but I only just learned about this yesterday. Tonight and Sunday, Jan. 29, New Yorkers, MOMA will be screening a restored version of The Unknown (1927), including ten minutes that had been cut from most existing prints! If The Unknown is Unknown to you (ha), it is arguably the most bizarre of the many outre collaborations between director Tod Browning and star Lon Chaney. It’s the one in which he plays a circus star who fakes armlessness for a freak show, then has his arms really removed to impress the woman he loves (Joan Crawford), like ya do, only to learn that she doesn’t really love men with no arms as she had previously claimed. Something like that.

As he always did, in The Unknown The Man of a Thousand Faces gave the ticketbuyers more than they bargained for by performing incredible feats of dexterity…with his feets. Not just quotidian things like pouring wine (per below). He’s a professional knife thrower. Eat your heart out, Throwdini!

The Unknown is on a bill with another silent circus story, The Great Love of a Little Dancer (1924), featuring the art of the Schwiegerlings, a family of German puppeteers. Today’s accompanist is Makia Matsumura; on the 29th it’s our friend Ben Model.

More delicious details here.