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Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer's fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film's climax. Written by
Stephen Cooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Climax" produced and directed by George Waggner inevitably suffers in comparison to his "The Phantom of the Opera" re-make released the previous year. Filmed on the same opera set as the Phantom (both 1925 and 1943 versions) and in glorious color and with the same female lead (Suzzanna Foster) as the previous year, it is nevertheless disappointing. It was also the first color film for star Boris Karloff.
The film opens with Dr. Hohner (Karloff) lamenting the loss of his beloved Marcellina (June Vincent) who was an opera star, ten years earlier. We then flash back to learn that Hohner had been in love with the diva but was jealous of her voice, which he saw as coming between them. When she rejects his love, he murders her and she "disappears".
While leaving the theater, Dr. Hohner hears a voice that he believes to be that of Marcellina. It belongs however, to aspiring student Angela (Foster) who with her fiancé Franz (Turhan Bey) is hoping to become an opera singer. Impresario Count Seebruck (Thomas Gomez) hears her and plans to present her in the theater much to the dismay of resident soprano Jarmila Vadek (Jane Farrar).
Angela achieves immediate success, but when Seebruck plans to star her in "The Magic Voice", Dr. Hohner decides to take action. Luring her to his home on the pretense of examining her throat on behalf of the opera company, he hypnotizes her into believing that she no longer wants to sing.
We also learn that the good doctor has preserved Marcellina's body and keeps it in a sealed room in his home while being observed by his housekeeper Luise (Gale Sondergaard) who had served Marcellina.
Franz decides to take action. He secures an audience with the boy King (Scotty Beckett) who orders a command performance of "The Magic Voice" and................
Karloff has had better roles. In spite of a promising opening, the film drags through the middle and gives him little to do. Foster basically plays the same role as she had in the Phantom, a year earlier. Gale Sondergarrd who usually played evil and sinister villains, is wasted here. Bey, who was a rising star at the time also has little to do but drool over Foster.
Although the technicolor photography is stunning, it is spoiled by a weak story and weak characters. The film doesn't seem to know whether it will be a horror story or a musical. Trying to mix the two fails miserably.
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