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Svengali (1931)

 -  Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi  -  22 May 1931 (USA)
7.0
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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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Title: Svengali (1931)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Marian Marsh ...
...
The Laird
Bramwell Fletcher ...
Billee
...
Madame Honori
Luis Alberni ...
Gecko
Lumsden Hare ...
Monsieur Taffy
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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He hypnotizes! He thrills...! Any woman caught in his spell must obey. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

| | |

Release Date:

22 May 1931 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Barrymore was 49 during filming while leading lady Marian Marsh was only 17. 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... !
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remember the Night (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Haine
(uncredited)
Music by Francis Popy
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User Reviews

 
Needs to be seen repeatedly to appreciate

The futuristic sets are combined with realistic sets in a very strange manner. You wonder, "Am I taking a tour of various approaches to this movie: realism vs. fantasy, comedy vs. drama?"

Watching John Barrymore work is amazing. I have no frame of reference since I don't know how stylized the acting in 1931 was. I'm sure, since sound was new, that they were still working subconsciously under the same duress, the same constraints as having to show emotions only visually.

Love the story as an analogue for the young woman who is mesmerized by some man she is totally incapable of having anything in common with. The last scene is puzzling, as we are once more back in fantasy land.

Trilby herself is like a trilling bird, so cheerful and so under the spell of Svengali. Winding up in the cheap dance halls is their fate, as Svengali insists on having his way: another morality lesson. He didn't have the ability to be flexible.

The price that ignorant Trilby pays for being hypnotized by this lying charming mesmerizer is death, who brings her great fame but at such a price!!!. Great analogue for our country in its present state..


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