Tod Browning

  • Tod Browning – The Mystic (1925)

    Tod Browning1921-1930CrimeSilentUSA
    The Mystic (1925)
    The Mystic (1925)

    A fantastically atmospheric but rarely seen missing link in the development of Tod Browning’s artistry, set amid his favored milieu of shadowy sideshows and clever criminals, The Mystic provides a striking showcase for silent-era diva Aileen Pringle, who sports a series of memorably outré looks (courtesy of art deco designer Erté) as Zara, a phony psychic in a Hungarian carnival who, under the guidance of a Svengali-like con man (Conway Tearle), crashes—and proceeds to swindle—American high society. Browning’s fascination with the weird is on full display in the eerie séance sequences, while his subversive moral ambiguity extends surprising sympathy to even the most seemingly irredeemable of antiheroes.Read More »

  • Tod Browning – The Devil-Doll (1936)

    1931-1940ClassicsHorrorTod BrowningUSA

    Paul Lavond was a respected banker in Paris when he was framed for robbery and murder by crooked associates and sent to prison. Years later, he escapes with a friend, a scientist who was working on a method to reduce humans to a height of mere inches (all for the good of humanity, of course). Lavond however is consumed with hatred for the men who betrayed him, and takes the scientist’s methods back to Paris to exact painful revenge.Read More »

  • Tod Browning – Mark of the Vampire (1935)

    1931-1940ClassicsHorrorTod BrowningUSA

    Sir Karell Borotyn appears to have been killed by Count Mora, a vampire believed to haunt the local village. Now his daughter Irena is the count’s next target. Enter Professor Zelen, an expert on vampires who’s sent in to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death.Read More »

  • Tod Browning – Miracles for Sale (1939)

    1931-1940ThrillerTod BrowningUSA


    Directed by Tod Browning (Dracula (1931) & Freaks (1932)), this film features a host of character actors led by Robert Young as retired magician Mike Morgan, who now sells tricks to the other performers in his former trade (hence the film’s title). Frank Craven plays Young’s father, having just come to NYC to visit his son, and provides the film’s comic relief. Judy Barclay (Florence Rice) is being chased and comes to Morgan for help, whose assistance becomes the story, which plays out confusingly and frenetically during this picture’s 71 minutes. Henry Hull as Houdini-like Dave Duvallo and Lee Bowman (among others, some listed later) also appear in this Harry Ruskin, Marion Parsonnet, and James Edward Grant screenplay (based on Clayton Rawson’s novel).Read More »

  • Tod Browning – The Blackbird (1926)

    1921-1930CrimeSilentTod BrowningUSA

    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)

    1921-1930AdventureSilentTod BrowningUSA

    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)

    1921-1930CrimeSilentTod BrowningUSA

    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)

    1921-1930HorrorSilentTod BrowningUSA

    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)

    1931-1940DramaHorrorTod BrowningUSA

    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 »

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