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The Films of Tod Browning [Paperback]

By Bernd Herzogenrath (Editor)
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Item description for The Films of Tod Browning by Bernd Herzogenrath...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   238
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.8" Width: 7.5" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   2.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 30, 2006
Publisher   Black Dog Publishing
ISBN  190477251X  
ISBN13  9781904772514  

Availability  0 units.

More About Bernd Herzogenrath

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bernd Herzogenrath was born in 1964 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Frankfurt, Germany.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Communications > Film Studies
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts > Theater > Stagecraft
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Direction & Production
4Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General
5Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > History & Criticism

Reviews - What do customers think about The Films of Tod Browning?

The Enigmatic Browning Revealed  Apr 22, 2007
Tod Browning is one of the most enigmatic directors of Hollywood's golden age of horror. Hailed as a genius by many, his work however has come under increasing scrutiny by modern day critics. Browning is best remembered as the director of "Dracula" (1931) and the notorious (and long banned in England) "Freaks" (1932). But Browning's career began long before that in the silent era working with early pioneering director D.W. Griffith.

His silent-era films are highlighted by the seven films he made with screen legend Lon Chaney, Sr. that include the Holy Grail of lost films, "London After Midnight." Editor Bernd Herzogenrath and the group of contributors don't merely stroll through Browning's career but rather take a scholarly look at his films and the various reoccurring themes that he explores. One such theme is Browning's morbid obsession with mutilation and the abnormal. In "The Unknown" (1927) Chaney is tightly corseted to appear as if he is missing his arms. In "Freaks", Browning employs real life circus freaks--people with horrible abnormalities such as the pinheads and serves up a truly gruesome revenge on the beautiful trapeze star at the film's climax. Even 70 plus years later this is still a disturbing scene. There is also Browning's curious obsession with cross-dressing men, punctuated by the bizarre site of Lionel Barrymore dressed as the elderly Madame Mandelip in "The Devil Doll" (1936).

Critics have attacked Browning's efforts on Dracula in recent years for the stilted dialog and staginess of scenes. Many have suggested that even the gloomy, gothic opening of the film is the effort of Cinematographer Karl Freund, and not Browning, although there have been surviving crew members that dispute this claim. Certainly no one can try to divest Browning of his due credit for "Mark of the Vampire" (1935) that if anythingfar surpasses Dracula in mood and atmosphere.

The book covers all of Browning's films and devotes entire chapters to his most notable works. There have been previous books written about Browning but none even have come close to the thoughtful and detailed examination of The Films of Tod Browning. Browning is a man who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as James Whale, Karl Freund, and Paul Wegener.

Reviewed by Tim Janson
A little West of Zanzibar but still worth the trip  Feb 2, 2007
First off, this book is not as good as Skal and Savada's 1995 authoritative biography on Tod Browning, Dark Carnival. With The Films of Tod Browning by Herzogenrath, I expected more or less a chronologiocal filmography-type presentation of Browning's films similar to the old Citadel Press film books. I was a little let down to find not only a retread of Skal's earlier, exhaustive (and easy to read) research but an uninteresting (and slightly wordy) stab at critical analysis of some of Browning's films. The set-up of the book was a little weird too. It didn't have a good flow. All in all, if you are a true fan of Browning, than you will purchase anything that has his name on it. The one good thing about this book for die-hard Browning fanatics is the inclusion of several pages of color artwork in the back - detailing several Browning/Lon Chaney advertisements and original posters (some of which I had never seen before). Other than that, this is not the perfect introduction to Browning's life and work for the uninitiated. Still, I give it 4 stars for being nicely bound in a sturdy quality paperback presentation and for being one of the few (I think I presently only count 2) books on the subject of a greatly neglected and virtually forgotten filmmaker. Browning was a true auteur long before there ever was such a word for it. His films (both silent and sound) set the template for every dark, twisted, tale of the macabre to come (every director from Tim Burton to David Lynch owes Browning a debt of gratitude). He truly was the Father of the modern horror film. One can criticize Browning's work as a filmmaker and still acknowledge his genius. Of course the only true way to evaluate him is to see his work for yourself. Start with Browning's The Unknown with Lon Chaney. It's currently available on DVD in TCM's Lon Chaney Collection 2 disc set. It's a brilliant work of art that you will never forget.

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