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Novelist Alexander Dumas tells his writer-son of Joseph Balsamo, a gypsy boy in southern France who was embittered because his parents were wrongfully hanged and he himself was tortured by the order of Viscount de Montagne. Years later, the man, a carnival charlatan, attracts the attention of Dr. Mesmer, a pioneer in the study of hypnotism. Balsamo rejects Mesmer's plea that he use his power for healing and, instead, decides to use it to seek wealth and fame. He changes his name to Count Cagliostro, and achieves fame throughout Europe by mixing hypnotism with mysticism and showmanship. He is called to cure a girl, Lorenza, held by De Montagne, because she resembles Marie Antoinette, wife of the heir to the throne of France. Cagliostro decides to join De Montagne and Madame du Barry in a plot to seize the power by discrediting the future Queen. Cagliostro achieves his revenge on De Montagne by persuading him to hang himself. He makes Lorenza marry him but can never make her love him. ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The Masonic compass that Cagliostro sported on his hat and other "secret-fraternal" symbols on his coat when being presented at court are eloquent. He was anti-monarch (although he coveted the power for himself), and could easily have been a member of one of those secret societies. They were the actual force behind the French Revolution and the stirring up of the masses by tracts secretly produced and other such methods. See more »
Cagliostro as a child was scrawny with dark brown eyes and hair, yet he grew up big-boned, with lighter hair and eyes. A genetic impossibility. The young boy was also miscast because both the gypsy parents had blue or green eyes. See more »
The trite dialogue, Ed Wood style special effects and ridiculous plot of this film creates a beautiful "cult" charm. Orson Welles plays a highly entertaining Gypsy and even directed a few of his scenes. Matching, and sometimes even topping Welles's fiendish performance is Akim Tamiroff, the sideman actor that played in many of Welles's films from Don Quixote to The Trial. This film is a bit tragic but most certainly charming. There are so many close up shots of Welles's black eyes mesmerizing the audience against a spine tingling score whispering lines like, "you will submit" that it makes me wonder why this film hasn't been re-released and put in the "cult classic" section of video stores. Good luck finding it.
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