Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) is a circus freak who, while armless, uses his feet in place of arms. This includes tossing knives in the circus show. Alonzo, however, is an impostor and fugitive. He still secretly has both of his arms, but keeps them bound to his torso, with the aid of his friend Cojo, to keep his real identity secret. Alonzo’s right hand has a double thumb, which would be easily recognized if his hands were revealed.
While at the circus, he falls for Nanon (Joan Crawford), the daughter of the circus owner. The local circus strongman is also attracted to Nanon, but she cannot stand being touched by a man, and shuns him. She keeps a friendship with Alonzo, whom she believes to be armless and therefore unable to touch her.
Tod Browning (12 July 1880 – 6 October 1962) was an American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter.
Browning’s career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best-known as the director of Dracula (1931 in film), the cult classic Freaks (1932 in film), and classic silent film collaborations with Lon Chaney, Sr., Browning directed many movies in a wide range of genres.
He was born Charles Albert Browning, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky, the second son of Charles Albert and Lydia Browning, and the nephew of baseball star Pete Browning. As a young boy, he put on amateur plays in his backyard. He was fascinated by the circus and carnival life, and at the age of 16 he ran away from his well-to-do family to become a performer.
Changing his name to “Tod”, he traveled extensively with sideshows, carnivals, and circuses. His jobs included working as a talker (barker, as the term is also known, isn’t correct) for the Wild Man of Borneo, performing a live… read more