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Tod Browning and Lon Chaney (2000)

A celebration of one of the most amazing partnership in the history of cinema, the miraculous pairing of Tod Browning, the tormented filmmaker and Lon Chaney, the king of make up and ... See full summary »

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Emmanuel Barrouyer ...
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
Patrick Floersheim ...
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Lon Chaney (voice)
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A celebration of one of the most amazing partnership in the history of cinema, the miraculous pairing of Tod Browning, the tormented filmmaker and Lon Chaney, the king of make up and physical transformation. Ten films made together and a shock to generations and generations of film goers Written by Guy Bellinger

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Browning/Chaney  »

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(archive material)|
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This film features an MGM promotional film of the 1920s. See more »

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Features The Unknown (1927) See more »

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Etude op. 10 N°3
Composed by Frédéric Chopin
(Published in 1833)
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Top-notch documentary
11 December 2009 | by (Montigny-lès-Metz, France) – See all my reviews

A Part of the TV series "Couple & Duos", Laurent Preyale's entry "Tod Browning & Lon Chaney" is a brilliant documentary. Benefitting from extensive research work (just have a look at the long biography in the credits and you will see my point!) and boasting first-rate archive documents, notably some clips of rarely seen oldies like "The Oubliette" or ""The Scarlet Car" (whose prints I did not even know had survived), "Tod Browning & Lon Chaney" is at once informative, moving and enlightening.

With an indisputable knack for synthesis, Preyale manages to get to the core of either man's original art on the one hand and of their fruitful partnership on the other. He gives us much more than a mere insight into their working methods, their respective personal histories, showing how life made them the unique geniuses they are (well-to-do Browning running away from his family to become a circus performer, his witnessing the murder of a child by her own mother, the car accident who caused him to kill actor Elmer Booth; Chaney obliged to become a mime artist to make himself understood by deaf and dumb parents), and how combining these two offbeat talents (Thank you Irving Thalberg for first pairing the macabre duo!) produced a series of ten films, most of them masterpieces of the bizarre. Also commendable is Préyale's emphasis on the human qualities of both Browning and Chaney. Two freaks maybe, but freaks do teach us more about human nature than those who follow blindly the rules of polished society, don't they?

I am sure will never watch again a film by Browning (with or without Chaney) the way I did before. The same is true concerning Chaney (in a Browning movie or not) after seeing this excellent documentary. Mission accomplished, Mr. Préyale.


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