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The Devil Commands (1941)

6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 475 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 13 critic

Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Devil Commands (1941)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Dr. Julian Blair
Richard Fiske ...
Dr. Richard Sayles
Amanda Duff ...
Anne Blair
Anne Revere ...
Mrs. Blanche Walters
Cy Schindell ...
Karl (as Ralph Penney)
...
Mrs. Marcy
Walter Baldwin ...
Seth Marcy
Kenneth MacDonald ...
Sheriff Ed Willis
Shirley Warde ...
Helen Blair
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Storyline

Dr. Julian Blair is engaged in unconventional research on human brain waves when his wife is tragically killed in a freak auto accident. The grief-stricken scientist becomes obsessed with redirecting his work into making contact with the dead and is not deterred by dire warnings from his daughter, his research assistant, or his colleagues that he is delving into forbidden areas of knowledge. He moves his laboratory to an isolated New England mansion where he continues to try to reach out to his dead wife. He is aided by his mentally-challenged servant Karl and abetted by the obsessive Mrs. Walters, a phony medium, who seems to exert a sinister influence over him. When their overly curious housekeeper discovers the truth about their experiments, her death brings the local sheriff in to investigate. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This mad wizard kills at will in Satan's service! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 February 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil Said No  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cy Schindell plays the role of Julian's hulking manservant Karl. He often used the name Al Seymour, but here is billed under the name Ralph Penney, for the only time in his career. See more »

Goofs

Dr. Julian tells Mrs. Walters she had 10,000 volts pass through her body. Volts do not flow or pass, amps do. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Anne Blair: They say my father's spirit must still lives in that house. I don't know. When he seemed to be so close to what he sought, something reached for him - a warning that human beings must not try to reach beyond death! I don't know. No one will ever know, and yet perhaps the time will come when the door to infinity will open... perhaps... perhaps...
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Mad Doctors (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rockin'-Out on Brain Waves
24 June 2009 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

At last, Karloff has met his match. One glance from the steely-eyed Ann Revere (Mrs. Walters) is enough to freeze even Frankenstein. She doesn't need make-up—she's scary enough just walking onto the set. I'd love to see a stare-down between her and an icy Bette Davis. Anyway, the movie is occasionally atmospheric, especially the cliff house scenes. The plot doesn't make much sense—I guess that's why we get the voice-over narration. It's something about getting brain waves from the dead and turning them into talk. Apparently, that requires that Dr. Blair (Karloff) assemble a junk pile in his laboratory. On special occasions, the metal heaps sit around a table in diving helmets and sort of rock out on brain waves. Then there's the live person who puts on a helmet and sticks neon tubes in her ears. Apparently, that triggers an indoor wind, and then wispy ghost-like things appear. The wind doesn't bother them, but it sure musses-up Karloff's hair. It's one wild and crazy lab scene.

The cast and crew are an interesting bunch. Director Dmytryk was one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, who then decided to sing to the House committee, and so, went back to work. On the other hand, Revere never did sing and stayed blacklisted for a decade or so. There's also young Robert Fiske who plays Dr. Sayles. He has the distinction of being one of a handful of movie actors killed in action during WWII— don't they deserve some kind of Hollywood memorial. And between Dorothy Adams (Mrs. Marcy) and the equally familiar Ellen Corby, housekeeper roles stayed monopolized in Hollywood for about twenty years. Nothing special in this 50 or-so minutes, except for the goofy lab scenes. But something should be said for the great Karloff. Even in this routine programmer, he gives it his all, a spirited performance that almost makes the hocus-pocus believable. I hope there's a place in Hollywood heaven for great old pro's like him.


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