Through hypnotism and telepathic mind control, a sinister music maestro controls the singing voice, but not the heart, of the woman he loves.

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(novel) (as George Louis DuMaurier), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
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...
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Bramwell Fletcher ...
...
Madame Honori
Luis Alberni ...
Lumsden Hare ...
Paul Porcasi ...
Bonelli
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Storyline

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 <genart@volcano.net>

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All Paris desired her, but Svengali owned her! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

22 May 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Trilby  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This pre-Code movie caused controversy about its nude modeling scene. Marian Marsh wore a body stocking, and in one shot where she was running from the room, an older girl was used instead of her. See more »

Goofs

After Billie vows to follow Svengali and regain Trilby's attentions, we see an article in a Naples newspaper titled "Opera News." The second paragraph reads thus: "Monsieur Bonelli states Monsieur Svengali has recoved from his illness." See more »

Quotes

Svengali: [to Trilby] There is nothing in your mind... nothing in your heart... nothing in your soul... but Svengali... Svengali... Svengali... !
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Connections

Version of BBC Play of the Month: Trilby (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Drame Ignore
(uncredited)
Music by Gabriel Marie
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User Reviews

 
Svengali (1931)
3 April 2005 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I've only watched the film once – by way of Roan's fine if not outstanding DVD - and this happened fairly recently. SVENGALI follows its source novel ("Trilby" by George Du Maurier) pretty closely, which is rare for horror film-adaptations of the 1930s. Apart from John Barrymore's appropriately mesmerizing leading performance (here revisiting the genre after a whole decade), I recall one particularly amazing tracking shot demonstrating Svengali's hypnotic powers over Trilby, and there are even brief flashes of nudity (remember this was a Pre-Code film, but also that our heroine is a model)! Barrymore followed SVENGALI with the thematically-similar THE MAD GENIUS (1931) but, unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to watch that one…


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