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 »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Somewhere WEST OF ZANZIBAR, a crippled magician insanely plots revenge on the ivory hunter who ruined his life...
Lon Chaney dominates this fascinatingly bizarre little silent movie. More than just a horror actor,' Chaney was a consummate craftsman who, here using a minimum of makeup, could sway an audience with the slightest facial twinge or glance from his haunted eyes. Completely convincing as a cripple, dragging his dead legs behind him across the floor, he becomes more a monstrous aberration than a human being.
Lionel Barrymore, Warner Baxter & lovely Mary Nolan all give excellent performances in supporting roles, but this is really Chaney's picture all the way. The fine production values , courtesy of MGM, only enhance its star's dominance of the medium.
With Tod Browning, Chaney's frequent collaborator, as director, it is fascinating to speculate how much Chaney's physical performance here later influenced Browning's vision in his masterwork, FREAKS (1932).
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