Tod Browning

Tod Browning – The Blackbird (1926)

Two thieves, the Blackbird and West End Bertie, fall in love with the same girl, a French nightclub performer named Fifi. Each man tries to outdo the other to win her heart. Read More »

Tod Browning – West of Zanzibar (1928)

For 18 years Phroso, known as Dead Legs by his cronies, plots his revenge, becoming a pseudo-king in East Africa, nearby where Crane has set up an ivory business. When the daughter is grown, having lived in a brothel in Zanzibar thanks to Dead Legs, Phroso put his plan into action, resulting in revenge and retribution all around. Read More »

Tod Browning – The Unholy Three (1925)

Lon Chaney — the Man of a Thousand Faces — used his makeup skills, astonishing physicality and profound empathy to create Quasimodo, the Phantom of the Opera and more of the Silent Era’s greatest horror roles. In this hypnotic mix of creepiness and crime, he plays a ventriloquist who dons a granny disguise to team with a strongman and a little person in a bizarre robbery scheme that ends in murder. The film marks an even more fateful alliance than that of the Unholy Three: the collaboration between Chaney and director Tod Browning, who would helm seven more Chaney movies before making Sound Era horror history with Dracula and Freaks. Read More »

Tod Browning – The Unknown (1927)

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A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost. Read More »

Tod Browning – Freaks [+commentary] (1932)

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The sideshow of Madame Tetrallini (Rose Dione) is going well until acrobat Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), in league with strongman Hercules (Henry Victor) decides to marry and murder the rich midget Hans (Harry Earles) for his inheritance. Hans’ midget girlfriend Frieda (Daisy Earles) can do nothing, and neither can circus clown Phroso (Wallace Ford) or ‘normal’ performer Venus (Leila Hyams). But Hans is not alone: The freaks have an unwritten code among themselves to punish cruel outsiders. Read More »

Tod Browning – The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true “bounder” Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Read More »

Tod Browning – The Devil-Doll (1936)

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Plot: Banker Paul Lavond makes an escape from Devil’s Island where he was sentenced for seventeen years after being framed by his three partners. His fellow escapee Marcel takes him to meet his wife Malita and, as Lavond watches, Marcel demonstrates a process whereby he can shrink animals and people to the size of dolls and animate them by will-power. But then Marcel has a heart-attack and dies. Malita persuades Lavond to continue his work and Lavond sees the opportunity to have revenge on those that framed him. Disguising himself as an old woman, Madame Mandelip, he and Malita set up a doll shop in Paris where Lavond then sends the shrunken people out to kill his enemies. Read More »