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 <email@example.com>
Madame Mandilip's special dolls are costumed as members of vicious street gangs known as the Apache (pronounced ah-PAHSH), who were involved in theft, prostitution, and the occasional murder in pre-World War I Paris. The dolls even perform the Apache dance popularized by the gangs, in which extremely close steps alternate with seemingly brutal punches, kicks, hair-pulling, spins, and throws; it was usually danced to the Valse des rayons (aka Valse chaloupée) composed by Jacques Offenbach. In the 1930s and 1940s, this dance was still performed by professional dancers and can be seen in several films and even cartoons of the period. See more »
The shrunken animals do not cast shadows when they move. This is obvious with the dogs on the lab table and the horse galloping on Radin's desk. See more »
This is wonderful, Lavond. Now that you are free, we can go on with our work, without being bothered by the police.
Lavond (as Madame Mandelip):
No, Malita, my work is over, but I am not free. Why, if they ever found out who I was, the police would want a lot of questions answered: What happened to Radin? Who paralyzed Coulvet? No, Malita, when I proved my innocence, I condemned myself forever.
See more »
Director Tod Browning just wasn't drawn to normal people. His movies are often set in circuses and carnivals, or else involve criminals who take on weird or grotesque disguises. Deception of one kind or another is a common theme in his films. Some find his movies to be profound commentaries on the human condition; others see them as just weird. I see Browning as a unique film artist. As to the extent of his genius, it's hard for me to gauge. There's no one else quite like him. Whenever I'm watching a Browning picture I'm inevitably more thrilled by the ideas behind it than I am by the film itself. The Devil Doll concerns a man framed for a crime he didn't commit who is sent to Devil's Island, where he learns the black art of shrinking people to the size of mice from an inventor. He escapes from the island and returns to Paris, where he proceeds to extract his revenge on those who sent him away.
There's a lot of plot in this one, far more than I just outlined, and the movie has on occasion a Victorian-Dickensian feeling, aided in no small measure by the casting of Maureen O'Sullivan and Frank Lawton, who had just appeared in the movie of David Copperfield, as the romantic leads. Lionel Barrymore is the star, and still quite capable of getting around, and delivers a fine performance, alternately sympathetic and diabolical. This is not a fast-paced or exciting movie by today's standards, but it has its virtues, most of them pictorial. The special effects are superb, and the elf-people uncannily persuasive.
30 of 35 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?