Paul Lavond was a respected banker in Paris when he was framed for robbery and murder by crooked associates and sent to Devil's Island. Years later, he escapes with a friend, a scientist who was working on a method to reduce humans to a height of mere inches (all for the good of humanity, of course). Lavond however is consumed with hatred for the men who betrayed him, and takes the scientist's methods back to Paris to exact painful revenge. Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Francis McDonald (Detective) and Inez Palange (Concierge) are in studio records/casting call lists as cast members for their roles, but they did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. See more »
Radin at times does not cast a shadow when he's about to stab Matin in his house. See more »
[Explaining why he thinks shrinking people and animals is a good idea]
Lavond, my friend, millions of years ago the creatures that roamed this world were gigantic. As they multiplied, the earth could no longer produce enough food. Think of it, Lavond: every living creature reduced to one-sixth its size. One-sixth of its physical need. Food for six times all of us!
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Disguised as an old woman, an escaped convict uses the creations of a pair of mad scientists to further his schemes of personal revenge.
Director Tod Browning, master of the macabre, had another winner with this little horror/science fiction film. Its glossy production values, courtesy of MGM, do not get in the way of the director's pacing or the heightening of suspense. The actual story itself - with tiny, shrunken people being used to carry out dastardly deeds in Paris - is quite absurd, but the cast is so good and the direction so able that the viewer can simply sit back and enjoy the results.
Lionel Barrymore, one of America's greatest character actors, has a field day in the lead role and is actually quite compelling dressed as an elderly lady, hobbling about like an authentic beldame. It would not be long before he would be confined to a wheelchair by crippling arthritis, but with his excellent voice and piercing eyes Barrymore would scarcely be handicapped as an actor. Here he is a positive menace, cooing & consoling his intended victims before sending the devil-dolls - controlled by his mind - to finish the job of retribution.
Fragile & ailing, Silent Film star Henry B. Walthall would be dead before THE DEVIL-DOLL could be released. Nonetheless, he still manages to give a powerful performance as a deranged scientist who has discovered how to reduce living things to one sixth their original size. Walthall's desperate eagerness over his researches replicates the dying actor's desperation to communicate with his audience. Equally formidable is Italian actress Rafaela Ottiano as Walthall's widow, feverishly continuing her husband's weird experiments. Her insane eyes and sinister mien, making her resemble Frankenstein's Bride, give the film some of its spookiest moments.
Rotund Robert Greig appears as one of Barrymore's victims; gentle Lucy Beaumont plays Barrymore's mother. Maureen O'Sullivan & Frank Lawton, reunited once again after DAVID COPPERFIELD (1935), nicely fill the requisite roles of the young lovers.
Movie mavens will recognize Eily Malyon as a mean-tempered laundress & Billy Gilbert as a butler, both uncredited.
Erich von Stroheim, brilliant & obsessive, was one of the screenwriters on this project. The special effects in the scenes involving the tiny people are quite well managed.
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