|Best known for:|
The Unholy Three
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Tod Browning was a prolific director in the silent era, and is considered to be the first great horror film director. He is best known as the director of Dracula, the famous version with Bela Lugosi. Browning is most infamous for Freaks, which was banned in 431 countries and pretty much put the kibosh on his career. This embittered him so much that he refused to watch movies during the latter part of his life.
Browning was somewhat of a reclusive figure. He rarely gave interviews during his career, and left the public eye completely when he retired. He seems to have had somewhat of a distasteful reputation in Hollywood. Budd Schulberg, author of On the Waterfront and a former neighbor of Browning's, described him as a "sadist," and the content of films such as The Unholy Three, The Unknown and West of Zanzibar makes the accusation seem plausible.
A drunken Browning crashed his car into a freight train in 1915. Browning suffered serious, undisclosed injuries, and actor Elmer Booth was killed. This event is believed to be responsible for the theme of mutilation that recurs in his work. His films centered on exceptionally dark themes, and he was known as the "Edgar Allan Poe of Hollywood." Lon Chaney frequently appeared in Browning's films, as he was willing and able to perform the physical contortions demanded for Browning's roles. Browning's background as a carnival worker inspired Freaks, which is considered by many to be his masterpiece.
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