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 <email@example.com>
Chaney gives one of the most powerful acting performances ever seen
This film can be discounted as unacceptable by many modern audiences. It is filmed in black and white. It is silent and it shows African blacks in a stero-typic manner that would not be accepted today.
Saying all that, it is a must-see film for any serious student or fan of drama. Chaney gives in this film one of the most powerful and convincing acting performances of any actor in any film. Without a single spoken word he shows anger to the point of madness, sly intelligence and overwhelming remorse and sorrow.
There is no feel of "miming emotions " or "mugging for the camera" about this film. The emotions that Chaney display feel so authentic that at times this viewer feels a discomfort for intruding into the personal torment of the character.
The director has used the talents of Chaney and to a lesser extent those of the other actors to relay most of the story with minimal use of "Text Cards", which otherwise would have disrupted the flow of action.
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