In the Post-World War II, the British Susanne Mallison travels to Berlin to visit her older brother Martin Mallison, a military that has married the German Bettina Mallison. The naive ... See full summary »
Svengali tells the story of Dixie, a small town guy with a big dream. He leaves a humble Welsh mining town for the bright lights of London, intent on becoming the manager of the best band ... See full summary »
Robert Newton was originally hired to play Svengali with a specific clause in the contract about the actor's drinking, but after a few days of shooting his erratic behavior resulted in his being replaced by Donald Wolfit. Newton fled to Australia where he filmed The Adventures of Long John Silver (1955), but when he returned he found himself facing a $375,000 breach of contract suit from the producers. See more »
One of several big screen adaptations of du Maurier's TRILBY, this was notable for utilising the author's original illustrations in costume, and to some extent, settings. It also had the benefit of a characteristically flamboyant and forceful performance from the great Donald Wolfit. He's able to engender a small degree of sympathy for the grubby and boorish Svengali (including his frustration, as a classical musician, with Trilby's continual rendering of a rather wan little ditty, 'Alice, Where Art Though?' later to form the aptly dowdy signature tune to OPEN ALL HOURS). He's compelling whenever the film focuses on him, despite more than a touch of Frankie Howerd in places. Unfortunately it concentrates rather too much in the early stages on the ageing English art students, and not helped by some crude editing, the story doesn't grip as it should. Hildegarde Neff brings beauty, intelligence and a sense of vulnerability to Trilby, but she comes over as about as Irish as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, whose sublime lyric soprano tones are heard on the soundtrack. Terence Morgan can make little impact as Billy, and despite being good to look at, with the colour and atmosphere of the early Hammer horrors, the whole enterprise is lacking in drive, with too many short scenes on cramped sets. The finale at Covent Garden where Svengali dramatically relinquishes his hold on Trilby is especially disappointingly handled, with the director failing to build any tension or sense of occasion, then allowing what remains to fall flat.
One of those films that has its moments, but falls firmly into the 'could have been so much better' category.
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