The March 21 screening will be a silent screening. The March 24 screening will be presented with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.
Browning’s penchant for dark, controlled ambience and unsettling characters transforms this crook-scam programmer into phantasmagoric doppelgänger horror. Adapted from a screenplay by Waldemar Young (The Unholy Three), based on an original story by Browning, The Blackbird once again played to the public’s appetite for perverse physical theater and stars Lon Chaney in dual roles: the titular criminal, who vies for the affections of a music hall puppeteer (Renée Adorée), and his palsied twin brother, known as the Bishop, who covers up his own crimes by using a charity operation and faked disability as elaborate fronts. This evident precursor to The Unknown is a disquieting tale of illusion versus reality containing some of Browning’s strangest scenes—including a bizarre puppet show, Chaney’s near-farcical quick-change transformations, and a startlingly ironic climax worthy of O. Henry. 35mm print preserved by George Eastman Museum.