In Paris, a demented surgeon's obsession with a British actress leads him to secretly replace her concert pianist husband's mangled hands with those of a guillotined murderer with a gift for knife-throwing.
In Paris, the great surgeon Dr. Gogol falls madly in love with stage actress Yvonne Orlac, and his ardor disturbs her quite a bit when he discovers to his horror that she is married to concert pianist Stephen Orlac. Shortly thereafter, Stephen's hands are badly crushed in a train accident- beyond the power of standard medicine. Knowing that his hands are his life, Yvonne overcomes her fear and goes to Dr. Gogol, to beg him to help. Gogol decides to surgically graft the hands of executed murderer Rollo onto Stephen Orlac, the surgery is successful but has terrible side-effects...Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first two lines of poetry quoted by Peter Lorre are from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, number seven: The face of all the world is changed, I think, Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul. See more »
When Gogol disguises himself as Rollo, he does not have an accent when he speaks (whispers). If he did, the audience (and Madame Orlac) would know immediately who he really was. See more »
Brilliant surgeon Dr. Gogol is infatuated with Horror Theatre star Yvonne Orlac. After meeting her in person and realising that she only has eyes for her husband, the renowned pianist Stephen Orlac, he buys a life size mannequin of her and dreams of doing what Pygmalion did with Galatea. When Stephen is involved in an horrific train crash and has both his hands crushed beyond healing, Yvonne pleads with Gogol to help save his well being, he does, by amputating the crushed hands and grafting on the hands of a recently executed murderer, a murderer whose speciality was knives!
Mad Love is one of those amazingly old classics that is a hybrid of genre staples. At times it's surrealist and at others it's operating via a Grand Guginol pulse, whilst knowingly it laces the story with an uneasy comedic bent. Boasting camera work from Gregg Toland and Chester Lyons and directed by the impressive Karl Freund, this adaptation of Maurice Renard's novel is a chillingly memorable piece of work. Working off a plot that sees the bad Doctor driven by lustations rather than out and out insanity, Freund revels in slowly winding the coil until the spring that is Peter Lorre (Gogol) explodes (implodes), cloaking various scenes in telling shadows that themselves become integral to the plot. Peter Lorre is of course in his element, demented yet sympathetic, it's real hard to take your eyes away from his magnetic weirdness. Colin Clive as Stephen Orlac also puts in a performance of note, all twitchy nervousness and believable emotional torment, whilst Frances Drake more than adequately brings vulnerability to the centrifugal importance of Yvonne's emotional turmoil.
Weird and gorgeous, and incredibly well written, Mad Love holds up very well today as a horror/romance film of vast influential worth. So see it in the dark and marvel at its various moments of cinematic excellence. 8.5/10
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