When: Fri., Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Film history is riddled with iconic director/actor pairings, but one of the earliest and most extraordinary collaborations was between director Tod Browning and actor Lon Chaney, who made ten films together between 1919 and 1929. Together the duo made the bizarre thriller The Unknown, in which former circus worker Browning guided Chaney in the role of Alonzo the Armless, a sideshow performer who would go to any length to woo young Nanon (Joan Crawford), daughter of the circus owner. After Chaney passed away, Browning returned to the circus for another twisted love story in 1932's Freaks, which starred actual sideshow veterans in the lead roles. Here it's a beautiful trapeze artist who consents to marry Hans, a little person, for her own dubious reasons. Early test screenings were so horrifying that one woman threatened to sue the studio, claiming the film caused her to suffer a miscarriage. Even after 30 minutes were cut and a happy ending was added, the film was universally reviled, nearly ending Browning's career. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. both The Unknown and Freaks will screen as part of Cinema St. Louis' Tribute to Tod Browning at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.cinemastlouis.org ). Tickets are $15.