Lon Chaney – The Unholy Three (1925)


Lon Chaney – The Unholy Three (August 16, 1925)
Cast:       Lon Chaney as Echo the Ventriloquist
                Mae Busch as Rosie O’Grady
                Matt Moore as Hector McDonald
                Victor McLaglen as Hercules
                Harry Earles as Tweedledee

Written by Tod Robbins
Directed by Tod Browning

Plot: Echo is a sideshow ventriloquist who is paired up with Tweedledee, a midget, and Hercules, a strong man. Collectively, they are known as “The Unholy Three” and the law is closing in on them. Can they commit one more heist and get away with it?

Richard’s Review: This was my second time watching the silent version of The Unholy Three but it felt more like a first-time viewing as I remembered very little about the story. However, this viewing left me very impressed as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Chaney as Echo, a role in which he was allowed to act without the benefit of makeup. Granted, he was dressed in drag for much of the film but his acting abilities were still allowed to shine through. There was certainly a darkness surrounding the relationship of the three criminals, especially Hercules and Tweedledee, which allowed you to almost feel sorry for Echo, especially in the final scene. Highly recommended but take your time to find the good and tinted print with the better soundtrack. Some prints offer an inferior quality with a rather annoying musical score.


  • Tod Browning work with Lon Chaney on 10 different films, including London After Midnight (1927) and West of Zanzibar (1928). He’s also remembered for such horror classics as Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932) and Mark of the Vampire (1935). After his wife died in 1944, he spent the next 18 years as an alcoholic recluse before dying of cancer in 1962 at the age of 82.
  • Mae Busch is also remembered for numerous appearances in Laurel and Hardy films, including Sons of the Desert (1933) and Them Thar Hills (1934). Genre fans may have recognized her as the cathouse madame in Doctor X (1932). She died in 1946 of pneumonia at the age of 54. Sadly, her ashes remained in a cardboard box until the 1970s when they were claimed members of the Laurel and Hardy fan club Way Out West Tent, at which time they were finally given a proper internment and a plaque.
  • Harry Earles made his debut in this film at the age of 23. He only starred in 14 films but is fondly remembered for his roles in both version of The Unholy Three, Freaks (1932) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). He mostly left Hollywood in 1930 to work full-time with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. He died in 1985 at the age of 83.
  • Harry Earles actually played Echo in one brief scene in order to give the chimpanzee the appearance of being as large as Lon Chaney.
  • In the original novel by Tod Robbins, Tweedledee was the leader of the gang, not Echo.
  • Tod Browning cut a scene from the final film in which Tweedledee murdered a child, an act considered too disturbing for 1925 audiences.

Availability: The Unholy Three is in the public domain and can be found on Amazon Prime and is available in the Lon Chaney Warner Archive Collection with five other Chaney classics.

Classic Horrors Club – The Thousand Faces of Lon Chaney


“The trick in this business is to do something totally different from the rest so they’ll take notice of you.”

– Lon Chaney to Boris Karloff

This month in episode 67 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff Owens and I celebrate the birthday of the great Lon Chaney, the “Man of a Thousand Faces.” You already know him from the classic films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and Phantom of the Opera (1925), but tune in as we do a deeper dive by celebrating his career and taking a look at He Who Gets Slapped (1924), The Monster (1925) and The Unknown (1927)!

Don’t forget to check out the video companion on our YouTube channel. It contains exclusive content not available in this month’s podcast that you don’t want to miss!

Call us at (616) 649-2582 (CLUB), email at classichorrorsclub@gmail.com or join us in our clubhouse at https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/!

We’d also appreciate if you’d give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. Thank you!

You can find Jeff at:

Comin up next month, we’re entering the fantastical world of Sinbad and Ray Harryhausen with an exciting triple feature…The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)!

Lon Chaney – The Penalty (1920)


Lon Chaney – The Penalty (August 8, 1920)
Cast:        Lon Chaney as Blizzard
                Ethel Grey Terry as Rose
                Claire Adams as Barbara Ferris
                Kenneth Harlan as Dr. Wilmot Allen
                Charles Clary as Dr. Ferris
                Milton Ross as Lichtenstein
                Jim Mason as Frisco Pete

Written by Gouverneur Morris
Directed by Wallace Worsley

Plot: Blizzard is a deranged criminal mastermind in the San Francisco who is plotting his greatest heist ever, which also includes restoring his two legs and gaining revenge on the doctor who mistakenly amputated them 28 years earlier.

Richard’s Review: The Penalty is definitely one of Lon Chaney’s most memorable roles, enhanced by his physical appearance and amazing performance. What starts out simply as a crime thriller takes an interesting turn towards the latter half of the film as Blizzard’s true plot comes to the surface. The idea of capturing of the doctor who amputated his legs and having him grafted onto him to restore his ability to walk is played out horrifically. The twist ending is rather interesting as well. It’s a dark film that is brought to life through Lon’s fantastic presence on screen. At first, he appears to be incredibly cruel with redeeming qualities but there is a sympathetic side that surfaces, altering your perception of the villain. While there is no fancy makeup in this film, the amputee illusion is a prime example of the lengths Lon would go to further his craft. I highly recommend this as one of his best films I’ve seen so far.


  • Lon Chaney tied both of his legs back to walk on his kneecaps and create the illusion that he was an amputee. He could only endure the pain for ten minutes at a time and he suffered permanent ligament damage as a result.
  • Gouverneur Morris wrote the script based on his 1913 novel of the same name. He also wrote The Purple Mask, which was adapted as The Ace of Hearts (1921), also starring Lon Chaney.
  • Wallace Worsley also directed The Ace of Hearts (1921), A Blind Bargain (1922) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), all starring Chaney.
  • Ethel Grey Terry is most remembered for her role as Rose and made her last film in 1928. She never transitioned to sound and died in 1931 at the age of 48 after suffering from an undisclosed illness for over a year.
  • Kenneth Harlan appeared in 200 films, including many supporting roles in chapter serials.
  • Charles Clary appeared in 235 films, his last of which was in 1930. He died in 1931 at the age of 58.

Availability: The Penalty is in the public domain and can be found in a variety of places and from a wide selection of sources. Picture quality and accompanying score will vary. For home video, the Kino Classics 2012 Blu-ray is your best bet for a quality presentation.