ON DANGEROUS GROUND
1951, Warner Bros., 82 min, USA, Dir: Nicholas Ray

Violent, embittered metro cop Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan) gets sent upstate to cool off and investigate a small-town murder probe. The search leads him to a fateful confrontation with local blind woman Mary (Ida Lupino, magnificent) and his own black heart. Sterling contributions all around: writer A.I. Bezzerides’ savvy script, Ray’s vigorous direction and location shooting, Bernard Herrmann’s alternately brassy and soft score and Ryan’s ferocious performance make this one of the genre’s most affecting statements about anger and alienation in the big city.


FREAKS
1932, Warner Bros., 64 min, USA, Dir: Tod Browning

"Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us!" Based on the simple moral that beauty is on the inside comes this inspired, documentary-like tale of circus life. Trapeze artist Cleopatra and strongman Hercules plot to kill the sideshow midget and gain his inheritance. With never-duplicated eerie performances by real-life siblings Daisy and Harry Earles as Hans and Frieda. Featuring the beautiful conjoined Hilton Twins, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow as Zip and Pip the pinheads, Johnny Eck as Johnny the half-boy and the unforgettable Prince Randian as the human Torso, with the most amazing cigarette-smoking scene in film history. Drawing from past experience working for the circus, DRACULA director Tod Browning cast actual people with disabilities and deformities instead of using special effects and makeup, something unthinkable for the time. Although banned in the U.K. for 30 years, FREAKS was selected for preservation in 1994 by the United States National Film Registry as one of the greatest films of all time.


THE UNHOLY THREE
1925, Warner Bros., 86 min, USA, Dir: Tod Browning

One of director Tod Browning's earliest evocations of death, perversity and deformity, this silent masterpiece follows a crime syndicate comprised of a dwarf, a strongman and a ventriloquist (as the latter, Lon Chaney dresses up as a woman in one of the many instances of transvestism in Browning’s ouevre).


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