The Unholy Three (1930)

74-75 mins | Melodrama | 12 July 1930

Director:

Jack Conway

Cinematographer:

Percy Hilburn

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

M-G-M made a silent adaptation of Clarence Aaron Robbins' novel in 1925. That version was directed by Tod Browning and also starred Lon Chaney and Harry Earles as "Echo" and "Tweedledee" (see entry). Modern sources have called the 1930 version a shot-by-shot remake of the 1925 film, although Waldemar Young is credited with the screenplay of the silent film, while J. C. Nugent and Elliott Nugent (who also appeared in the 1930 picture as "Hector") are the only credited writers on the 1930 film.
       The 1930 production was the fifty-seven-year-old Chaney's only sound and dialogue film, as well as his final film before his death on 26 Aug 1930. For additional information on Chaney, please consult the entry above for the 1957 Universal film Man of a Thousand Faces, directed by Joseph Pevney and starring James Cagney as Chaney. That biographical film's title referred to Chaney's well-known sobriquet, which alluded to the many film roles in which he wore heavy makeup and various disguises.
       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Jack Baxley, Ray Cooke, De Garo the Fire Eater, Trixie Friganza, Charles Gemora, Joseph W. Girard , Armand Kaliz, Sylvester the Sword Swallower, Birdie Thompson and Cecilia and Linda Parker.
       The film print for The Unholy Three was fully restored by The Film Foundation, an organization founded in 1990 by director Martin ... More Less

M-G-M made a silent adaptation of Clarence Aaron Robbins' novel in 1925. That version was directed by Tod Browning and also starred Lon Chaney and Harry Earles as "Echo" and "Tweedledee" (see entry). Modern sources have called the 1930 version a shot-by-shot remake of the 1925 film, although Waldemar Young is credited with the screenplay of the silent film, while J. C. Nugent and Elliott Nugent (who also appeared in the 1930 picture as "Hector") are the only credited writers on the 1930 film.
       The 1930 production was the fifty-seven-year-old Chaney's only sound and dialogue film, as well as his final film before his death on 26 Aug 1930. For additional information on Chaney, please consult the entry above for the 1957 Universal film Man of a Thousand Faces, directed by Joseph Pevney and starring James Cagney as Chaney. That biographical film's title referred to Chaney's well-known sobriquet, which alluded to the many film roles in which he wore heavy makeup and various disguises.
       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Jack Baxley, Ray Cooke, De Garo the Fire Eater, Trixie Friganza, Charles Gemora, Joseph W. Girard , Armand Kaliz, Sylvester the Sword Swallower, Birdie Thompson and Cecilia and Linda Parker.
       The film print for The Unholy Three was fully restored by The Film Foundation, an organization founded in 1990 by director Martin Scorsese. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald-World
19 Jul 1930
p. 33.
Film Daily
6 Jul 1930
p. 10.
New York Times
3 Jul 1930.
---
New Yorker
12 Jul 1930
p. 53.
Photoplay
Aug 1930
p. 55.
Time
14 Jul 1930
p. 56.
Variety
9 Jul 1930
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
Cont and dial
Cont and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Unholy Three by Clarence Aaron Robbins (New York, 1917).
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 July 1930
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 4 July 1930
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
2 July 1930
Copyright Number:
LP1391
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
74-75
Length(in feet):
6,300
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Ventriloquist Professor Echo tires of living off the small profits of petty theft and proposes to three of his fellow sideshow performers, Herman, who is known as the strong man, Hercules and Willie, a dwarf billed as Tweedledee, that they go far away, where they will never be found. Some time later, the three have established new identities, along with Rosie, a young pickpocket with whom Echo is in love, and Echo's gorilla, of which Herman is mortally afraid. The pet shop they run and disguises they don provide a way for Echo and his cohorts to have access to the homes of wealthy clients who take delivery of parrots and other pets in his shop. Echo guards the jewels and money that Herman is able to steal, but Herman and Willie are becoming tired of waiting to spend their money, and Rosie is becoming attracted to Hector, a kind, but naïve young man who works at the pet shop. Although Echo verbally threatens Rosie not to become involved with Hector, she is not afraid of him and continues to see the young man. On Christmas, when Herman and Willie commit a jewel robbery at the home of wealthy client Arlington, Arlington is killed. Echo is furious and, with Willie's help, nervously hides the necklace that Herman has stolen when the police come to his home behind the shop. To avoid the police, Echo implicates Hector in the robbery by planting the jewels in his room. The bewildered Hector is then arrested and put on trial for robbery and murder. Soon Echo is hiding in a cabin in the country with the others, including ... +


Ventriloquist Professor Echo tires of living off the small profits of petty theft and proposes to three of his fellow sideshow performers, Herman, who is known as the strong man, Hercules and Willie, a dwarf billed as Tweedledee, that they go far away, where they will never be found. Some time later, the three have established new identities, along with Rosie, a young pickpocket with whom Echo is in love, and Echo's gorilla, of which Herman is mortally afraid. The pet shop they run and disguises they don provide a way for Echo and his cohorts to have access to the homes of wealthy clients who take delivery of parrots and other pets in his shop. Echo guards the jewels and money that Herman is able to steal, but Herman and Willie are becoming tired of waiting to spend their money, and Rosie is becoming attracted to Hector, a kind, but naïve young man who works at the pet shop. Although Echo verbally threatens Rosie not to become involved with Hector, she is not afraid of him and continues to see the young man. On Christmas, when Herman and Willie commit a jewel robbery at the home of wealthy client Arlington, Arlington is killed. Echo is furious and, with Willie's help, nervously hides the necklace that Herman has stolen when the police come to his home behind the shop. To avoid the police, Echo implicates Hector in the robbery by planting the jewels in his room. The bewildered Hector is then arrested and put on trial for robbery and murder. Soon Echo is hiding in a cabin in the country with the others, including Rosie, who has fallen in love with Hector and urges Echo to help him. After Rosie promises to marry Echo and show him the affection he craves, Echo softens and decides to help. He then goes back to the city and appears at Hector's trial, in the guise of Mrs. O'Grady, the owner of the pet shop. Although he attempts to hide his true identity, on the witness stand he eventually reveals himself as Echo and is arrested. Meanwhile, in the country, Herman and Willie, who have been left behind with Rosie, have a falling out when greed and jealousy overtake them. Herman kills Willie but is himself killed by the gorilla, while Rosie escapes the cabin and goes to the city. After Echo is sentenced to several years in jail for the robbery, Rosie promises to wait for him and make good on her promise, but at the train station on his way to prison, Echo pretends not to want her anymore, letting her know that it is all right for her to marry Hector and earning her gratitude to him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.