It’s the holidays…again…and in the midst of all the typical crap like breaking out the decorations for the house and erecting the false trees or buying the real ones and scrambling to get out the Christmas cards to people we don’t ever talk to anymore, we here at the Sewer are once again taking stock of the many gifts we’ve gotten from the movies over the years and celebrating them in the form of our own demented little Christmas carol we like to call the 12 Days of CHUDmas.
Over the next 12 days we’re going to be counting down – in reverse order, cause screw the original carol, counting up sucks – these gifts and tying in the entries with some gift ideas to help take the sting out of that last minute trip to the store to snag something for that cousin who decided to be a considerate douche and send you a present after five years of non-communication.
On the third day of CHUDmas my true CHUD sent to me…
Movie: The Unholy Three (1925, 1930)
Director: Tod Browning, Jack Conway
Long before Scorsese and Leo or Scorsese and DeNiro or Ford and Wayne there was director Tod Browning and Lon “the Man of 1000 Faces” Chaney. Browning and Chaney made ten films together between 1919 and 1929, creating such weirdo classics of the silent era as The Unknown, West of Zanzibar, London After Midnight, and this kooky piece based on a story by Tod Robbins, which was remade five years later as Lon Chaney’s first and only “talkie.” Jack Conway’s remake was also to be Chaney’s final film before he succumbed to cancer.
Both films feature Lon Chaney as Echo the ventriloquist, the leader of “The Unholy Three,” a trio of ex-side show performers who turn to a life of crime after TweedleDee, the “Twenty Inch Man” (Freaks‘ Harry Earles in both versions), assaults a baby. The trio’s muscle is the dimwitted strongman, Hercules. To hide from the law, Echo dresses as an old woman named Mrs. O’Grady, with Tweedledee pretending to be her baby grandson and Hercules her son-in-law. Echo also brings along his pickpocket girlfriend Rosie to play his daughter, and the circus’ gorilla to help keep Hercules in line (he’s afraid of the ape). In Browning’s version the ape was portrayed by a chimpanzee on undersized sets, in Conway’s talkie the ape is a man in a suit.
As 2011’s The Artist deals with, many silent stars were unable to make the stylistic transition into talkies, but Conway’s remake demonstrates that Chaney easily could have continued his chameleon persona into the sound era as a man of a 1000 voices too — Chaney mastered the skill of ventriloquism for the 1930 film and did all his own “voice throwing.”
CHUDmas Gift Ideas