The more I see of John Gilbert, the less I am convinced by him as an actor. In Tod Browning's "The Show" he plays an unsympathetic womaniser carnival player caught between a woman obsessed by him, her man seeking for revenge and an accusation of theft. If I admire the great leading man's choice of part, he chews way too much scenery to be credible or interesting to watch. His performance is one of the best examples of overacting of the late silent period.
The Big Parade" co-star.
The Browning touches in the carnival are wonderful: the strange creatures which antecipate "Freaks" and the atmosphere of, among others, "The Unknown"; and even the acts themselves. The woman-spider is just brilliant and the sword change is a really clever touch. Another positive was Lionel Barrymore's performance as "the Greek". He is truly the highlight of the film - sleazy, devious, and unlike Gilbert, subtle in his performance: no excesses, no hamming. I was just sorry he wasn't more in it.
On a final note, I felt sorry for the poor iguana in the film. To give the idea of a vicious attack, the poor animal was a few times put on a metal plate which was then electrified and I strongly suspect it might not have survived the film...