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The Magician (1926)

Passed | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 24 October 1926 (USA)
A magician/alchemist, seeking to create life, finds that he needs the "blood of a virgin" to continue his experiments. He sends out his dwarf assistant to pick out the right girl.

Director:

Rex Ingram

Writers:

W. Somerset Maugham (novel), Rex Ingram (adaptation)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Alice Terry ... Margaret Dauncey
Paul Wegener ... Oliver Haddo
Firmin Gémier Firmin Gémier ... Dr. Porhoët
Iván Petrovich ... Dr. Arthur Burdon
Gladys Hamer Gladys Hamer ... Susie Boyd
Henry Wilson Henry Wilson ... Haddo's Servant
Hubert I. Stowitts Hubert I. Stowitts ... Dancing Faun (as Stowitts)
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Storyline

A young girl, Margaret Dauncey, is caught between the forces of a charlatan magician, Oliver Haddo, whom she is unable to resist,and the love of a young surgeon, Arthur Burdon, who has saved her from being a helpless cripple by performing a delicate operation on her spine which startled the medical world. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THEY FOUGHT FOR A GIRL'S SOUL! (original poster - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 October 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Dämon See more »

Filming Locations:

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie, especially the explosion of the laboratory, influenced James Whale while making the Frnakenstein movies. See more »

Quotes

Oliver Haddo: If you wish to see strange things I have the power to show them to you.
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User Reviews

 
Interesting thriller
3 July 2006 | by reptilicusSee all my reviews

Rex Ingram is probably best remembered for directing Rudolph Valentino's breakthrough film THE FOUIR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (1921) but he ventured into the fledgling terror genre with this thriller starring Paul (The Golem) Wegener.

Wegener's character, Dr. Oliver Haddo, is allegedly based on the real life character Alastair Crowley. When we first meet him he is in attendance as the famous Dr. Burdon (Ivan Petrovich) saves the life of lovely Margaret Dauncey (Alice Terry, the real life Mrs. Ingram) with an operation on her spine. While recovering, Margaret falls in love with Dr. Burdon and he returns her affections. Dr. Haddo is interested in her too but for far less healthy reasons. Dr. H you see, has been searching for the way to create artificial life in the laboratory (sound familiar?) and a old book on alchemy has informed him that he needs "the heart blood of a maiden" added to certain other chemicals to make this happen.

So determined is Haddo to make this happen that he hypnotises Margaret and marries her while she is under his spell. At his mountain top lab he plans to complete his diabolical experiment. Will Margaret lose her own life so Haddo can create life? Will Dr. Burdon find her in time? Ah . . . that would be telling!

What many of us wonder is, is Haddo a real magician or just a very good hypnotist? In one scene he allows a poisonous snake to bite him but makes the lethal wound vanish with just a wave of his hand. Just a moment later the same snake bites a young woman and she must be rushed to hospital. Now most of us know that a venomous snake expels all its venom at the first bite so the fact that it was the second bite that felled the woman should have been a tipoff that Haddo was not bitten at all. Yes, but remember this is a movie and we have to build up suspense. An amusing scene has Dr. Burdon and Dr. Haddo meeting for the first time in a park. As Haddo walks away Burdon remarks to Margaret "He looks like he stepped out of a melodrama!". As if on cue Haddo glares back, throws his cape over his shoulder and makes a perfect stage exit! It is an innocuous but effective moment and briefly clouds the menace that will soon be facing the lovers.

The sequence most people remember is where Haddo gives Margaret a look at Hell. It is a rugged looking place but rather removed from the horrors of the Italian film L'INFERNO (1909) or even DANTE'S INFERNO (1926). The place is loaded with damned souls but they all dance around carefree while Pan (at least I think it's Pan) plays a tune on his pipes. Another faun (dancer Hubert Stowitts) takes Margaret in his arms and passionately kisses her as the dream ends. So did they really go to Hell or was it all a hypnotic dream? In a key scene soon after this Haddo visits Margaret at her home and we clearly see his lips say the words "your rape" which sends her into the deepest despair. Whether the rape was actual or just implied quickly becomes a moot point because she goes away with him, convinced she can never marry Dr. Burdon now.

Elements of the final reels of THE MAGICIAN figure prominently in the Universal film FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Haddo has a monolithic castle at the top of a mountain, a dwarf assistant do you think his name is Fritz?) and a well equipped lab. I think that not only director James Whale but also the set designer for FRANKENSTEIN had to have sat through this film more than once.

Talkies came along about a year after this film was completed and Wegener, who was uncertain of his ability to speak English, returned to Germany. He was not alone, he was soon joined by Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt and several other actors who had their doubts about being able to effectively perform in a foreign (to them)language.

So is THE MAGICIAN worth seeing? Yes it is, despite its shortcomings it is a well paced and convincingly performed thriller. Give it a try.


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