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October 7, 2010, 6:00 am
Filed under: Books, Currently Reading

The Films of Tod Browning by Bernd Herzogenrath © 2006
Synopsis: Known as the “Edgar Allen Poe of cinema,” Tod Browning is truly the dark master of filmmaking. However, despite the commercial success he enjoyed during his lifetime, he has never received the critical acclaim his work deserves.
Studying under the great master, DW Griffiths, Browning employed a unique cinematic style, involving cross-cutting between scenes, dark noir-ish shadows, and macabre subject matter. Best known for his films Freaks, The Unknown, Mark of the Vampire, The Devil Doll and Dracula, his dark, gothic style has influenced such filmmakers as Sam Raimi, David Lynch and Tim Burton.

Tod Browning was an American actor and director whose career spanned the silent and talkie eras. He joined a traveling circus while still a teenager, performing as a clown and contortionist. In 1915 he made his debut as an actor in DW Griffith’s classic Intolerance. Browning began directing in 1917, frequently co-writing his films.

His first film with actor Lon Chaney, The Unholy Three, was a hit and led to several memorable silent melodramas, including The Unknown, London After Midnight (which Browning remade in 1935 as Mark Of The Vampire), and West Of Zanzibar. By the 1930s Browning was specializing in horror, and directed two classics of the era: Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and the astounding Freaks. The latter, a shocker set among the freaks of a traveling sideshow, was far too disturbing for its time and was quickly yanked from theaters; only in the 1960s did the film come to be hailed as a masterpiece. Browning retired after directing Miracles for Sale (1939); however, as with Freaks, the ground-breaking significance of his work only started to be recognized decades later.

Comments: I received this book as a gift for my birthday. I love Tod Browning’s films, so I eagerly dove into this one! Continue reading