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Quiz about The Controversial Tod Browning
Quiz about The Controversial Tod Browning

The Controversial Tod Browning Quiz


Tod Browning was one of the great directors of the period when horror became a mainstream movie genre. Browning never shied away from controversy and this ultimately led to his downfall.

A multiple-choice quiz by jonnowales. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
jonnowales
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
340,282
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
352
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Question 1 of 10
1. Tod Browning was brought up by a moderately wealthy family in the US state of Kentucky. In his mid-teens, Browning abandoned his comfortable lifestyle to become a circus performer. In which city in Kentucky did Browning grow up and later leave to facilitate his life in the circus? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Tod Browning's early experiences of performance were via the weird and wonderful ways of the circus and such experiences included working as a clown for a successful company. For what company, which later merged with Barnum & Bailey Circus, did Tod Browning perform as a clown? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Whilst in New York, Tod Browning became acquainted with the director D. W. Griffith and by the mid-1910s Browning had parts, albeit fleeting, in high-budget films. Browning was an extra in what 1916 film, directed by Griffith, a production somewhat related to the 1915 film 'The Birth of a Nation'? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. In the mid-1910s, Tod Browning's career, and indeed his life, could have come to an abrupt end after the car he was driving collided with a train in motion. Tod Browning survived but was this a fatal car crash?


Question 5 of 10
5. In the latter years of World War I, Tod Browning made the move from assistant director to director and by the end of the 1910s, Browning began working with Lon Chaney, Sr. What was the name, which borders on being an oxymoron, of the 1919 film which was directed by Browning and starred Chaney, Sr. as a thief? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Despite directing films throughout the 1920s, Tod Browning would only begin to find great, and lasting, success with his "talkies" of the 1930s. His most memorable film of all was a 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi. What was the name of this film directed by Browning? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Tod Browning's most controversial offering came in 1932, when he presented a cast which consisted of performers from carnivals and sideshows. What was the name of this film, now a cult classic, that was banned in the United Kingdom for three decades? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Tod Browning's antepenultimate film was released in 1935 with his career in terminal decline. What is the name of this film in which Bela Lugosi played a spoof of Count Dracula? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. After his career had ended, Tod Browning began to live an increasingly reclusive lifestyle, the reclusiveness made worse by the death of his wife. At the time of his wife's death Browning was living near the Santa Monica Mountains, in which American state? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. By the end of the 1950s, Browning was battling a disease that required maxillofacial surgery. From what disease was Browning suffering? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Tod Browning was brought up by a moderately wealthy family in the US state of Kentucky. In his mid-teens, Browning abandoned his comfortable lifestyle to become a circus performer. In which city in Kentucky did Browning grow up and later leave to facilitate his life in the circus?

Answer: Louisville

Tod Browning left behind his family in Louisville at the age of just sixteen and his stable upbringing would be replaced by the nomadic ways of circus life. His passion for carnivals and the like would later influence his directorial career, circus performers being central to one of the most controversial films of the era.

The upbringing of Tod Browning contrasts quite starkly to the working class roots of the other great director of early horror movies, James Whale. Whereas James Whale was desperate to move up the social ladder, Tod Browning was content to move in the opposite direction. This was a great case of the grass is always greener!
2. Tod Browning's early experiences of performance were via the weird and wonderful ways of the circus and such experiences included working as a clown for a successful company. For what company, which later merged with Barnum & Bailey Circus, did Tod Browning perform as a clown?

Answer: Ringling Brothers Circus

Tod Browning joined the Ringling Brothers Circus before it merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus, the latter company arguably more recognisable due to the Barnum name. As well as working as a clown, Tod Browning found employment as a talker for sideshows and as a performer in Houdini-style burials.

His life in the circus would not last forever, as acting and directing for the stage and screen was on the horizon.
3. Whilst in New York, Tod Browning became acquainted with the director D. W. Griffith and by the mid-1910s Browning had parts, albeit fleeting, in high-budget films. Browning was an extra in what 1916 film, directed by Griffith, a production somewhat related to the 1915 film 'The Birth of a Nation'?

Answer: Intolerance

In addition to his role as an extra in 'Intolerance', Tod Browning would get a taste of directing high-budget productions in his capacity as assistant director. 'Intolerance' was a very expensive endeavour with estimates of the budget coming in at approximately $2,000,000 and that was in 1916! The epic film, that was well over three hours in duration, flopped and it thus became one of the greatest cinematic flops of the era.

'Intolerance' is believed to have been conceived, at least in part, in an effort to placate critics of D. W. Griffith's 1915 film 'The Birth of a Nation'. Many people objected to what they believed was the plot's racist overtone and at the very least its perceived support for white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The irony in all this is that 'The Birth of a Nation' was very successful despite the moral outrage that it elicited, whilst 'Intolerance', a film that may have been created to rectify the problems generated by its predecessor, performed disappointingly.

Tod Browning wasn't the only assistant director involved in this mammoth project, W. S. Van Dyke also gained crucial directorial experience. Van Dyke would later go on to direct 'Eskimo' (1933), a film that won an Oscar for Best Film Editing. This is particularly notable as 'Eskimo' was the first ever winner in this category, 'Slumdog Millionaire' (2008) and 'The Social Network' (2010) being more recent recipients.
4. In the mid-1910s, Tod Browning's career, and indeed his life, could have come to an abrupt end after the car he was driving collided with a train in motion. Tod Browning survived but was this a fatal car crash?

Answer: Yes

Tod Browning was accompanied by Elmer Booth and George Siegmann on the day of the crash in 1915. Browning and Siegmann survived but Elmer Booth was not so fortunate. Booth was an actor who appeared in short films, many of which were directed by D. W. Griffith, and in 1915 alone Booth had a role in more than ten short films. Elmer Booth's sister was the film editor, Margaret Booth, an editor so successful that she received an Academy Honorary Award.

Tod Browning's injuries put a temporary halt to his directing career but he took the opportunity that the two-year break presented to write.
5. In the latter years of World War I, Tod Browning made the move from assistant director to director and by the end of the 1910s, Browning began working with Lon Chaney, Sr. What was the name, which borders on being an oxymoron, of the 1919 film which was directed by Browning and starred Chaney, Sr. as a thief?

Answer: The Wicked Darling

'The Wicked Darling' (1919) isn't a widely recognised title and this is partly due to there being no known copies of the film in existence for the best part of seventy years. The main significance of this silent movie is that it was the first of many films directed by Tod Browning that starred Lon Chaney, Sr.

Their last collaboration was in 1929, a decade after the release of 'The Wicked Darling', and the film was titled 'Where East is East'.
6. Despite directing films throughout the 1920s, Tod Browning would only begin to find great, and lasting, success with his "talkies" of the 1930s. His most memorable film of all was a 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi. What was the name of this film directed by Browning?

Answer: Dracula

Bela Lugosi's performance, particularly his drawn-out accent, has contributed to the 1931 version of 'Dracula' becoming a staple for fans of horror films even in the modern day. It is believed that the Laemmle family, in charge of Universal Pictures at the time, wasn't particularly impressed by this version of 'Dracula'. That said, by the time 'Dracula' was released in 1931, the same year as James Whale's classic 'Frankenstein' aired for the first time, the decisions made by the Laemmles had led the company to financial instability. What could be seen as ever-increasing misjudgements led to the Laemmles losing control of Universal Pictures in 1936, the tipping point being the spiralling budget of the 1929 film, 'Show Boat'.
7. Tod Browning's most controversial offering came in 1932, when he presented a cast which consisted of performers from carnivals and sideshows. What was the name of this film, now a cult classic, that was banned in the United Kingdom for three decades?

Answer: Freaks

After seeing D. W. Griffith's film 'Intolerance' (1916) become a major flop, Tod Browning would see one of his own films spectacularly fail. Unlike Griffith, who would continue to make many films, Browning's career was irreparably damaged and he directed just four films in the next seven years.

'Freaks' (1932) shocked and sickened a large number of people when it was first released and it continued to disgust people even after heavy censoring. The film featured, amongst others, dwarves, characters that were limbless, intersex individuals and conjoined twins. If that was not controversial enough for the 1930s audience, Tod Browning refused to use make-up to create these characters, instead using real people with these various conditions.

The very aspects of 'Freaks' that the initial audience objected to so strongly have made the film celebrated by some in the modern era. Some praise its glorification of counterculture and others view the film as being sympathetic to people that were, and in some instances still are, ostracised from mainstream society. Indeed, the villains in the film were the "perfectly formed" acrobats, the "abnormal" carnival workers were portrayed as the heroes, or anti-heroes as some have suggested.
8. Tod Browning's antepenultimate film was released in 1935 with his career in terminal decline. What is the name of this film in which Bela Lugosi played a spoof of Count Dracula?

Answer: Mark of the Vampire

Tod Browning was struggling to make an impression by this point in his career, the shadow of 'Freaks' (1932) still lingering over him. As well as featuring the talents of Bela Lugosi, 'Mark of the Vampire' (1935) starred Lionel Barrymore who would later go to play Henry Potter in 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946).

Despite the cast, the film failed to lift Browning out of his Hollywood decline; two films and four years later Browning's time as a director had ended.
9. After his career had ended, Tod Browning began to live an increasingly reclusive lifestyle, the reclusiveness made worse by the death of his wife. At the time of his wife's death Browning was living near the Santa Monica Mountains, in which American state?

Answer: California

Tod Browning was always a bit of an outsider, the time he spent as a circus performer and the sympathetic portrayal of carnival workers in 'Freaks' (1932) illustrates this all too well. Browning's fondness for the people he spent time with during his circus career was not shared by the general movie-going audience and his career was ended by a theme that influenced his work so greatly. By the time of his death, Browning had shut everybody out of his life including his closest family.

Sources differ on whether Tod Browning lived as a recluse in Malibu or Santa Monica. If anybody has a conclusive source then please feel free to send me a note.
10. By the end of the 1950s, Browning was battling a disease that required maxillofacial surgery. From what disease was Browning suffering?

Answer: Cancer

After suffering from cancer in the latter years of the 1950s, Tod Browning died in October of 1962 at the age of 82. Browning's personality influenced his directorial career, of that there is no doubt; a career that can be defined by just two films, 'Dracula' (1931) and 'Freaks' (1932).
Source: Author jonnowales

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor skunkee before going online.
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