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The Mad Genius (1931)

Unrated | | Drama, Horror, Romance | 7 November 1931 (USA)
A crippled man finds a boy and vows to make him a great dancer.


Michael Curtiz


Martin Brown (play), J. Grubb Alexander (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
John Barrymore ... Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov
Marian Marsh ... Nana Carlova
Charles Butterworth ... Karimsky
Donald Cook ... Fedor Ivanoff
Luis Alberni ... Sergei Bankieff
Carmel Myers ... Sonya Preskoya
André Luguet ... Count Robert Renaud (as Andre Luguet)
Frankie Darro ... Fedor as a Boy
Learn more

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A crippled puppeteer rescues an abused young boy and turns the boy into a great ballet dancer. Complications ensue when, as a young man, the dancer falls in love with a young woman the puppeteer is also in love with. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sweeping the Screen to New Horizons as the Man Who Thought He Could Play God With Men's Souls and Women's Bodies! (Print Ad- Troy Times, ((Troy NY)) 2 December 1931)


Drama | Horror | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


At the beginning when Vladimir talks about creating a dancer from the runaway boy, he mentions the Frankenstein creation. The boy's father is played by Boris Karloff who went on to star in the Frankenstein film. See more »


A title card misspells Montmartre as "Montmarte." See more »


Nana Carlova: How can we forget Tsarakov?
Fedor Ivanoff: Sometimes I almost think I could admire him... for the very power that should make me despise him. Like some ignorant savage before a hideous god. Wanting to run, but staying to worship. With his face in the mud.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over a background of a figure dancing; a reference to the plot which involves a dancer. See more »


Referenced in Taxi (1931) See more »


Danse Russe Trépak
from "Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a"
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played during the opening puppet sequence
See more »

User Reviews

Another bit of Hollywood history.
12 June 2003 | by reptilicusSee all my reviews

There is a story that has since become part of Hollywood folklore that Boris Karloff, still a relatively unknown supporting player, was summoned to the office of director Michael Curtiz. The Hungarian expatriate took one look at the slender, soft spoken Englishman and allegedly said "Good God, you're not Russian! I sent for you because your name is Karloff. It certainly sounds Russian! Oh well, now that you're here I guess I'll have to use you." It seems like a lot to go through for a role that lasts about 2 minutes onscreen and was probably completed in 1 day but Boris got the part anyway. In truth, Boris is so convincing hidden behind a beard and using a Russian accent that many people do not realise it is him! In those pre-FRANKENSTEIN days you could also spot Karloff in THE YELLOW TICKET in which he has no lines at all; or in THE PUBLIC DEFENDER where he is quite noticeable; or even CRACKED NUTS where he appeared opposite comedians Wheeler and Woolsey. It was not long after THE MAD GENIUS that director James Whale asked Karloff to test for, as he (Whale) put it, " . . .a damned awful monster." The rest, as they say, is history. Frankie Darro, whose role is almost as small as Boris', had already costared with Rin Tin Tin Sr in THE LIGHTNING WARRIOR (1930) and would meet up with Rinty Jr in THE WOLF DOG (1934).

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Release Date:

7 November 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Coşkun Gönüller See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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