West of Zanzibar (1928)

West of Zanzibar

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Movie Info

In this lurid Tod Browning melodrama, boasting a thoroughly creepy performance by Lon Chaney, Chaney plays Phroso, a limehouse magician who is thoroughly in love with his wife Anna (Jacquelin Gadsdon). Also in love with Phroso's wife is ivory-trader Crane (Lionel Barrymore). After a performance, Anna tells Phroso that she is leaving him to go away with Crane to Africa. After Phroso confronts Crane, Crane kicks him down a second-floor landing, crippling him. Months later, Phroso, now known as … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Elliott J. Clawson, Waldemar Young
In Theaters:
Runtime:
MGM

Cast


as Phroso 'Dead-Legs'

as Maizie
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Critic Reviews for West of Zanzibar

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Chaney plays a stage magician whose signature trick is to transform a beautiful woman into a skeleton: This is an absolutely brilliant -- and economical -- visual evocation of the relationship between sex and death, the erotic and the morbid...

Full Review… | June 27, 2012
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

What makes this film special is the virtuoso performance of Chaney.

Full Review… | April 30, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for West of Zanzibar

A bit slow and overly dramatic but undeniably interesting and atmospheric vehicle for the legendary man of the thousand faces, Lon Chaney. well crafted revenge flick.

pier007
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

A remarkably dark, twisted movie, even by contemporary standards. And of course, it has a fantastic performance by Lon Chaney, playing a maniacal, vengeful Colonel Kurtz type who has paralyzed legs and laboriously drags himself around on his arms. "West of Zanzibar" is not as well-known as other Tod Browning films like "Dracula" and "Freaks," but it's just as powerful. I feel it desperately needed a flashier title -- "West of Zanzibar" suggests some dull National Geographic travelogue, not this sick, gripping melodrama. One warning: In a movie about African natives made in the 1920s, embarrassing racist stereotypes are a given.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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