This remake of West of Zanzibar (1928) made four years later tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. From a wheelchair a handicapped white man rules an area of Africa as a ... See full summary »
Mike Morgan creates the illusions that magicians use in their shows. While his business is Miracles for Sale, his hobby is exposing fake spiritualists. At the club, he is invited to attend ... See full summary »
Magician Phroso's wife Anna leaves him for another man, named Crane, who fights with Phroso and leaves him paralyzed. Later Anna returns and he finds her dead, leaving behind a daughter. For 18 years Phroso, known as "Dead Legs" by his cronies, plots his revenge, becoming a pseudo-king in East Africa, nearby where Crane has set up an ivory business. When the daughter is grown, having lived in a brothel in Zanzibar thanks to "Dead Legs", Phroso put his plan into action, resulting in revenge and retribution all around. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
A small masterpiece from director Tod Browning and actor Lon Chaney
Tod Browning is a marvelous director. I guess I've known this since i've seen his two most famous films, Dracula (the Bela Lugosi version) and Freaks. But neither of those films could have prepared me for the two films that I saw tonight (well, okay, maybe Freaks did; Dracula's not all that great a film). First, The Unknown from 1927 and, second, West of Zanzibar from the next year. Both of them starring Lon Chaney (Sr.). They are two of the most well-acted, well-directed, inventive, literate, powerful, and beautiful films I've ever seen. The difference between the two is that I had before heard of The Unkown - it's plot is too bizarre to be all that unknown. It's easily mentioned in the same breath with Freaks (in my opinion it is a step above it; that film is only interested in showing the freaks, although there are a couple of great, great scenes); there are thematic and plot similarities. But West of Zanzibar - it's not a typical film at all (not that The Unknown is, either, mind you!). In fact, it would be pointless to reveal any plot here, for if you've seen it (and I have no clue how many have), you'll likely remember it. If you haven't, it would be nice to come in fresh. See this underrated gem, I implore you!
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