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AMERICAN GOTHIC: A TOD BROWNING RETROSPECTIVE

Synopsis:

THURSDAY, MAY 19TH TO SATURDAY, MAY 21ST

Decades before Tim Burton and David Lynch, early cinema pioneer Tod Browning created one of the most bizarre, unsettling bodies of work the American cinema has ever known. After starting his career as a protege to D.W. Griffith, Browning made his mark in the silent era with a series of nightmarish depictions of underworld antiheroes, often collaborating with actor Lon Chaney. The coming of sound only gave Browning an additional tool with which to craft his deeply personal nightmares, and in the 1930's he directed several horror classics - most famously FREAKS and DRACULA.

Join us for a retrospective of the terrifyingly glorious works of Tod Browning, including THE UNKNOWN, THE UNHOLY THREE, THE DEVIL-DOLL and MARK OF THE VAMPIRE.

THURSDAY, MAY 19TH AT 7:30PM

THE UNKNOWN
Dir. Tod Browning
1927, MGM Repertory, 63 min, Melodrama/Horror, USA

Armless circus performer Lon Chaney falls for stunning, scantily clad bareback rider Joan Crawford (who, conveniently, is pathologically terrified of men's hands) in this typically haunting Tod Browning melodrama. Burt Lancaster once praised Chaney's performance in this film as the most emotionally compelling work ever committed to celluloid.




THE UNHOLY THREE
Dir. Tod Browning
1925, MGM Repertory, 86 min, Horror/Melodrama, USA

One of director Tod Browning's earliest evocations of death, perversity and deformity, this silent masterpiece follows a crime syndicate comprised of a dwarf, a strongman and a ventriloquist (as the latter, Lon Chaney dresses up as a woman in one of the many instances of transvestism in Browning’s ouevre).

**There will be a Live Musical accompanying both films!!!





FRIDAY, MAY 20TH AT 7:30PM

DRACULA
Dir. Tod Browning
1931, Universal, 75 min, Horror/Suspense, USA.

Director Tod Browning (FREAKS) and actor Bela Lugosi established the Transylvanian count as one of the archetypal movie vampires and a monster icon for Universal Studios’ golden era of classic horror films. This adaptation of Hamilton Deane’s then-popular stage play of Bram Stoker’s novel is quite different from Murnau’s silent NOSFERATU, and from later works coming from Hammer Studios from the 1950s through 1970s and Francis Ford Coppola in 1990. Real estate agent Renfield (played by everyone’s favorite madman Dwight Frye) goes insane after visiting Dracula at his Transylvanian castle and is thereafter confined to a London asylum, though he does the count’s bidding as a hypnotized slave when Dracula comes to Britain and moves into deserted Carfax Abbey. David Manners is Jonathan Harker and Helen Chandler is his lady love, whom Dracula wants to make his bride. Edward Van Sloan, a fixture in early Universal horrors, is Professor Van Helsing.




MARK OF THE VAMPIRE
Dir. Tod Browning
1935, MGM Repertory, 60 min, Horror/Suspense, USA

Scholar Lionel Barrymore, an expert on vampirism, is called in to investigate a series of vampire attacks in a small European village. With the help of inspector Lionel Atwill, he gets to the bottom of things in this classic horror tale, a remake of Browning's earlier LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT.





SATURDAY, MAY 21ST AT 7:30PM

FREAKS
Dir. Tod Browning
1932, MGM Repertory, 64 min, Melodrama/Horror/Docufiction, USA

"Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us!"

Based on the simple moral that beauty is on the inside comes this inspired, documentary-like tale of circus life. Trapeze artist Cleopatra and strongman Hercules plot to kill the sideshow midget and gain his inheritance. With never-again duplicated eerie performances by real-life siblings Daisy and Harry Earles as Hans and Frieda. Featuring the beautiful conjoined Hilton Twins, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow as Zip and Pip the pinheads, Johnny Eck as Johnny the half-boy and the unforgettable Prince Randian as the human Torso, with the most amazing cigarette-smoking scene in film history. Drawing from past experience working for the circus, DRACULA director Tod Browning cast actual people with disabilities and deformities instead of using special effects and makeup, something unthinkable for the time. Although banned in the U.K. for 30 years, FREAKS was selected for preservation in 1994 by the United States National Film Registry as one of the greatest films of all time.




THE DEVIL-DOLL
Dir. Tod Browning
1936, MGM Repertory, 78 min, Horror/Crime, USA

Director Tod Browning and star Lionel Barrymore reunite for a bizarre tale of a prison escapee who shrinks humans to doll-size in order to execute a crime spree. Co-written by actor-director Erich von Stroheim!





 

Genre:

Horror