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.
This book at last pays tribute to Browning's cinematic legacy. The contributors include academics from the fields of film studies, gender studies and disability studies from universities all over the world. "The Monstrous Body Politic of Freaks," "The Film Historian as Archaeologist," "Theatrical Illusion and Browning's films of the 1920s" and "Cultural Alterity and Sexual Desire in Where East is East," are just some of the essays by contributors including Matthew Sweney, Vivian Sobchack and Alec Charles. It is a definitive academic text on Tod Browning's singularly complex body of work, and looks at the entire pantheon of the director's films, analyzing his choice of subject matter and cinematic approaches.
In a similar vein to Black Dog Publishing's previous success, For Ever Godard, the book is packaged in colorful, richly illustrated format. Film stills, publicity shots and promotional material will exemplify the various points made in the essays, and will give the book a level of accessibility that is not usually achieved in academic publications.
The Films of Tod Browning is a long overdue consideration of this influential auteur, and is an essential for film buffs and academics alike. 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.