Tod Browning

"During the Twenties and Thirties he was the master of the American horror film genre and made Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi famous… He took a singular delight in grotesque characters and built his best films around them." - Georges Sadoul (Dictionary of Film Makers, 1972)

Tod Browning

Director / Producer
(1880-1962) Born July 12, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Horror, Crime, Drama, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Melodrama, Gothic Film
Key Collaborators: Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Lon Chaney (Leading Actor), Lionel Barrymore (Leading Actor), Bela Lugosi (Leading Actor), Harry Earles (Leading Actor), Guy Endore (Screenwriter), Garrett Fort (Screenwriter), Waldemar Young (Screenwriter), Edward J. Mannix (Producer), Merritt Gerstad (Cinematographer), Fredrick Y. Smith (Editor), Harry Reynolds (Editor)

"Evoking horror was Browning's specialty (London After Midnight, 27; Dracula, 31; Freaks, 32)." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“Browning turned to directing after working in the circus, vaudeville and as a film actor. His early films, for Metro and Universal, have been described as routine melodramas and did little to advance his career. It was Browning's collaborations with Lon Chaney that pulled him from the rank and file to a position as one of Hollywood's bankable directors… While Browning's movies have certainly provided audiences with a few shudders, he is no longer considered 'the Edgar Allan Poe of the cinema.' Critical opinion in the past twenty years has found his work to be infused with a curious indifference; something which would seem to be corroborated by his decision to retire from directing in 1939 to concentrate on his real estate holdings.” - Eric Schaefer (The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992)
"The eerily atmospheric horror movies Tod Browning made with actors Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi are his hallmark." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"Although often dismissed today, Tod Browning is the indisputable architect of the modern horror film. His version of Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi became the template for nearly all subsequent horror filmmaking. Although the film has some dull patches and structural problems, such as the abrupt ending that seems to occur to satisfy time constraints, it is the grandaddy of the genre - the first horror film with all the trappings… Browning may be more style than substance, but it is a style that still fascinates and disturbs." - Ken Hanke (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"Best known for Dracula, Charles Albert Browning, to give him his full name, is often regarded primarily as a horror director; but he is more appropriately seen as a highly imaginative eccentric whose best work is typified by his continuing fascination with the grotesque and macabre… In Browning's world, physical deformity often reflects psychological torment, and a brutally ironic, savage justice holds sway." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"The morbid cinema of Tod Browning seems to have been ahead of its time on some levels and out of its time on others… On a purely technical level, Browning seems less talented than Whale, not to mention Murnau (Nosferatu) and Dreyer (Vampyr) on the sublime level of obsessional horror. However, Browning's career is more meaningful than Whale's in terms of personal obsession. Also, Freaks may be one of the most compassionate movies ever made." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
The Unknown (1927), Freaks (1932)
Recommended
Dracula (1931), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)
Worth a Look
Outside the Law (1921), The Unholy Three (1925), West of Zanzibar (1928)
Approach with Caution
Miracles for Sale (1939)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
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