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Reviews & Ratings for
The Magician More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Well-done silent horror movie

7/10
Author: preppy-3 from United States
22 March 2010

Beautiful Margaret Dauncey (Alice Terry) is set to marry young handsome Dr. Arthur Burdon (Ivan Petrovich). They meet an evil magician named Oliver Haddo (Paul Wegener) who is trying to create life. He needs the blood of someone whose profile fits Margaret's perfectly...and he'll so ANYTHING to get it.

Hard to see silent. I want to thank TCM for showing it about a week ago. The print was in pretty good shape with tinting and an amusing music score (LOVED when they used "Night on Bald Mountain"). The movie was made with a pretty big budget--the settings are incredible--and has a good script that follows many horror film clichés--but in a good way. Heck, it all ends on a dark and stormy night and in a CASTLE! Also there's a trip to Hell which is a real jaw dropper. The acting varies. Terry was a star of the silent screen and it's easy to see why. She was a beautiful woman AND a good actress. She's just great here. Wegener chews the scenery again and again and AGAIN as the mad magician. He really overdoes it--but it's pretty amusing. Petrovich is given nothing to do as the doctor but him and Terry make a very good-looking couple. Beautifully directed by Rex Ingram too (who was Terry's husband). Well worth seeing--if you can.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An enjoyable horror film

7/10
Author: lyrast from Ireland
13 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Magician" {1926} is directed by Rex Ingram and stars Alice Terry as Margaret, Ivan Pétrovich as Dr Arthur Burdon and Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo, the villainous practitioner of Black Magic.

If one is willing to make the necessary suspension of disbelief there isn't the slightest doubt but that the film provides loads of entertainment as a horror/thriller combination.

The two leads don't have very much to do in terms of acting. Burdon is the usual faithful hero and Alice Terry's character spends most of her time staring helplessly about in a trance and looking full of Angst. Paul Wegner (who directed "The Golum" (1920)} steals every scene he's in with a wonderfully spectacular over-the-top melodramatic portrayal of the Magician who needs the heart blood of a maiden to create life {hmm . . . I wonder who's supposed to provide that ingredient}.

Another star in the film is the great cliff-top, tower-castle of Hadoo himself, surrounded with bolts of lightning and filled with such items as strange potions which bubble and foam with a satisfactorily smoking violence, strange manuscripts and sinister props. When Hadoo picks up his box of sharp knives, one can't help noticing the nearby cupboard topped with a skull nicely festooned with cobwebs. There's the expected winding staircase to impede the heroic rescue and an open fully fired-up incinerator helps us along to the climax which ends with a suitable cataclysm.

There are a very few points where the film is slightly disjointed--obviously owing to the fact that a few frames have been lost, but one soon forgets them. Generally the print used by TCM is very sharp and beautifully tinted. It's a pleasure to watch it. Robert Israel's score is well chosen, skillfully applied and very atmospheric. Note, for example, the reunion of hero and heroine is underlined by the love theme from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet.

The story of the film is based on a novel of the same name by Somerset Maugham and it is available for free download on Project Gutenberg. I've not read it yet but I might do so if only to compare the two approaches.

This is a film I would recommend for the entertaining use it makes of the typical stereotypes of the horror genre but above all for Wegener's fabulous performance.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Blood of a Virgin Goes a Long Way

6/10
Author: wes-connors from Los Angeles
15 June 2010

In Paris, beautiful sculptress Alice Terry (as Margaret Dauncey) is critically wounded when a giant faun she is working on cracks, topples, and crushes her body. Ms. Terry's wealthy uncle summons American surgeon Ivan Petrovich (as Arthur Burdon) to operate on Terry's paralyzed body. The doctor and patient celebrate Terry's full recovery by falling in love. During their courtship, they encounter magician hypnotist Paul Wegener (as Oliver Haddo), an alchemist who witnessed Terry's miraculous surgery. A frightening, rotund man, Mr. Wegener happens to encounter Dr. Petrovich and Terry again and again. Wegener wants to create life, and has decided Terry will supply the "Blood of a Maiden" required in an ancient sorcerer's recipe!

While still a young woman, Terry seems more like a matron than a maiden - guess you just have to assume "The Magician" knows a virgin when he sees one. In W. Somerset Maugham's original novel, the Terry character is a teenaged art student, and the intriguing Gladys Hamer (as Susie Boyd) an older rival; it's an excellent read, and fairly easy to find on line (for free). Most unclear, in the film, is exactly how Wegener's experiment is supposed to work. Playing "Dr. Frankenstein" (and inspiring the 1931 classic's design), Wegener sets up a lab to extract blood, apparently. Highlighted by a hellish hallucination, it's very nicely envisioned by Terry's skillful director husband Rex Ingram; but, it lacks the richness of plot abundantly available in the book.

****** The Magician (10/24/26) Rex Ingram ~ Alice Terry, Paul Wegener, Ivan Petrovich, Firmin Gemier

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Spellbounding

8/10
Author: kerrydragon
15 March 2010

First time on TCM,so I was curious to see this old "svengali" type film.The name alone was intriguing "The Magician".What I found was a totally intact silent of the best quality.The Villain in the picture plays it to the hilt,in somewhat cartooned expressions,but always creepy and interesting.The backdrop of Paris is of interest as are the colour sequences.The clothing in this film are especially attractive as is the well groomed cast.I was captivated from start to finish,what a treat to see a silent as it should be.The acting was wonderful from all,even though I had never heard of these particular actors before.I am a lover of old horror films and this really fit the bill.Enjoyed the castle,and early special effects.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Tame thriller full of ideas for later horror classics

Author: Arne Andersen (aandersen@landmarkcollege.org) from Putney, VT
11 December 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE MAGICIAN is a tame thriller but one which holds ideas and images borrowed by later masters of the horror genre (MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, THE MUMMY, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN).

Alice Terry plays a sculptor whose statue breaks and topples on her, requiring her to have spinal surgery. Miraculously recovered, she is courted by and becomes engaged to her surgeon. Lurking in the background of the medical arena and fascinated by her is a mad doctor/magician who intends to use alchemy to create human life, for which he needs the heart's blood of a maiden. He hypnotizes Terry ala Svengali and after using her to win money for him at the gambling tables, takes her to his laboratory tower on the hill to have his fiendish way with her.

Unfortunately, there is no real sense of the sinister, no thrills, no tension. Ingram does a tolerable direction job but Terry is just wasted in this one - not much of a chance to emote.

Wegener is menacing but subdued in the role of the madman. There are some nifty effects in the end with the tower on fire and finally blowing up ala the end of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

The print I saw was many generations removed from a master and was hardly visible in many places. Fright Video seems no longer to exist as a video source - I got mine through a private collector.

Not worth seeking out unless you are a fan of Terry's, Ingram's or early horror film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

silent chiller was ahead of its time

9/10
Author: Michael Neumann from United States
3 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A mad doctor and his hunchbacked assistant labor over their unholy experiments in an abandoned mountaintop castle during a fierce electrical storm. Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'? No, it's a W. Somerset Maugham story, filmed by Rex Ingram five years before the Boris Karloff classic, which in many ways it clearly anticipated. The film was one of the earliest horror dramas, and some of the unlikely but sensational plot twists (involving mesmerism, a virgin sacrifice, and a hallucinogenic trip to Hell) outraged polite audiences of its day. Most of the grisly details were artfully implied rather than overtly shown, making the film, in retrospect, superior to much of the broad melodrama surviving the silent age. Natural performances and realistic settings (Paris and Southern France) keep the colorful story from straining the limits of credibility, while the last minute rescue adds a satisfying (and, for the mad doctor, fatal) kick.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pioneering supernatural silent

6/10
Author: mhesselius from United States
15 October 2010

In the 1920s films dealing with supernatural evil were extremely rare. However, director Rex Ingram, obviously influenced by earlier German forays into the supernatural, cast German actor Paul Wegener of DER GOLEM in this adaptation of Somerset Maugham's novel THE MAGICIAN. Wegener's menacing performance as an evil Yogi in LEBENDE BUDDHAS (1925) made him a good choice to play Oliver Haddo, obsessed with creating life from an ancient formula requiring the heart's blood of a maiden, played by Ingram's wife Alice Terry.

John F. Seitz' cinematography is superb, especially in the depiction of the heroine's hallucinatory descent into Hell where she is figuratively ravished by a lustful and athletic satyr. And although Haddo doesn't succeed in creating the grisly, half-complete humans as in the novel, the controversial subject matter was nevertheless strong enough to insure the film's failure at the box-office in 1926.

Interesting comparisons have been made between this film and James Wale's FRANKENSTEIN, but the subject of black magic also invites comparison with later films - THE BLACK CAT (1934), THE NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957), and THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) - featuring characters who like Oliver Haddo were modeled on real-life occultist Aleister Crowley.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Both my thumbs are up for this one

Author: HallmarkMovieBuff from United States
15 March 2010

Practically every element of this film holds up very well here in the twenty-first century, eighty-four years after the movie was made - the writing, the casting, the directing (and art direction), the photography (both indoor and outdoor), the "costumes" and "sets" (really, the fashions and architecture of the era were a captivating delight), and most of the acting. I say "most" because the only thing that seemed dated in this post-feminist era was the woe-is-me attitude of the hapless heroine.

Particularly well-cast in terms of "looking the part" were the two male leads, both protagonist and antagonist. (After all, these were not speaking parts, so look was of high importance.)

Surprisingly enjoyable were some quite subtle, non-intrusive comedic tension-breakers by peripheral characters, including some clever silent movie sight gags.

The main recommendation I can make for seeing this film, however, is the clarity of the photography, both for the close-ups, and for some wonderful outdoor set pieces.

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Really good...and a lot like "Svengali" and "Frankenstein" combined.

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
17 March 2016

This is a very good silent film that still hold up very well today. When the film begins, Margaret (Alice Terry) is terribly injured--so badly she's paralyzed. However, Dr. Burdon (Iván Petrovich) performs surgery on her and she is healed. They soon fall in love and life looks grand. However, Oliver Haddo (Paul Wegener) sees her and instantly is smitten with her. Using his evil magical powers, he's able to pull her to him despite he loving the Doctor. However, he's not taking her because he loves her...nope. He's planning on using her for a human sacrifice in order to act like a Dr. Frankenstein and prove he can raise the dead!! Can Dr. Burdon rescue his love before it's too late?

This is a good film...very tense and exciting. Wegener (the German actor who starred in "The Golem") was excellent as the powerful madman and the film, though melodramatic, avoids going overboard like some films of the era thanks to good direction by Rex Ingram....Terry's real life husband.

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

History

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
28 February 2008

Magician, The (1926)

** (out of 4)

Influential MGM horror/thriller has a magician/surgeon (Paul Wegener of The Golem) trying to find the secret of bringing the dead to life. After some research he learns that the blood of a virgin will do the trick. From a historic standpoint this film remains important due to its heavy influence on films such as The Raven, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Mystery of the Wax Museum and especially James Whale's Frankenstein but the film itself is pretty dull. The influences on those films isn't really seen until the final ten minutes and everything leading up to it is rather dry and doesn't contain any life at all. There's some nice visual touches and the use of shadows is good but the early German horror films done all of this much better. Directed by Rex Ingram.

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