Sinister music maestro Svengali can control the actions of women through hypnotism and his telepathic powers. When a pupil he has seduced announces she has left her husband for him, he uses his powers to cause her suicide and promptly forgets her. He meets a beautiful model, Trilby, and becomes infatuated with her, but she, in turn, falls for a young artist called Billee who also loves her. One day Svengali hypnotizes Trilby to cure her headache, but also examines her upper palate and decides it is an ideal cavity for great singing. He convinces her to fake her suicide, so Billee and friends will forget her, and goes on a singing tour with her. Svengali uses his powers to make her sing wonderfully and Madame Svengali, as Trilby is now known, becomes a sensation throughout Europe. But Billee discovers the ruse and begins to follow the pair, upsetting Svengali enough to have him cancel performances too frequently, so they no longer can perform in Europe. They go to Egypt, but Billee ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <email@example.com>
Weirdest romance ever pictured! With the screen's genius and his new find.
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Did You Know?
Barrymore was one of the first actors to wear contact lenses in movies in "Svengali.". It was one of the earliest versions of hard contacts. They were clumsy and comfortable for the actor but improved his performance. See more
In the opening scene we see a late C19th pianoforte but we hear a modern (1931) concert grand. See more
Svengali will go to London himself! Where he will be all alone on a platform. And Princesses. And Countesses. And serene Highnesses will fling him their jewels, and applaud, and invite him to their palaces. And he will take you with him. I never look at them. Ah, we could be so happy. Look at me, in the eyes. Open your eyes.
Oh, I do love you!
Close your eyes.
Ah, don't say it! You are beautiful, my manufactured love. But it is only Svengali talking to himself again.
Featured in Going Hollywood: The '30s
Music by Paul Fauchey See more