West of Zanzibar (1928) - Rotten Tomatoes

West of Zanzibar1928

West of Zanzibar (1928)





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Movie Info

Even by the standards of star Lon Chaney and director Tod Browning, West of Zanzibar is an unrelentingly grim and gruesome melodrama. Chaney delivers an unforgettable performance as Flint, the crippled "king" of a faraway jungle island. Swearing vengeance against Crane (Lionel Barrymore), the man who stole his wife and left him a paraplegic, Flint concentrates his hatred on Crane's daughter Anna (Jane Daly). Bankrolling the girl's convent education, Flint brings Anna to his island domain, where he pumps her full of narcotics and forces her into a life of prostitution and all-around depravity. As a final humiliation, he intends to allow Anna to be sacrificed in a native ritual. But when he finds out that Anna is actually his own daughter, Flint does an abrupt about-face and does all he can to rescue the girl and her dissolute sweetheart Doc (Warner Baxter) from the rampaging natives. West of Zanzibar was remade (and, it has been, argued, vastly improved upon) as Kongo (1932), with Walter Huston in the Chaney role.

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Lon Chaney
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Mary Nolan
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Critic Reviews for West of Zanzibar

All Critics (2)

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...

June 27, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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

April 30, 2003 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for West of Zanzibar

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

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.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

West of Zanzibar Quotes

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