6.3/10
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37 user 28 critic

The Devil Commands (1941)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 3 February 1941 (USA)
Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writers:

Robert Hardy Andrews (screenplay) (as Robert D. Andrews), Milton Gunzburg (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Dr. Julian Blair
Richard Fiske ... Dr. Richard Sayles
Amanda Duff ... Anne Blair
Anne Revere ... Mrs. Blanche Walters
Cy Schindell ... Karl (as Ralph Penney)
Dorothy Adams ... Mrs. Marcy
Walter Baldwin ... Seth Marcy
Kenneth MacDonald ... Sheriff Ed Willis
Shirley Warde Shirley Warde ... Helen Blair
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Storyline

Dr. Julian Blair is engaged in unconventional research on human brain waves when his wife is tragically killed in a freak auto accident. The grief-stricken scientist becomes obsessed with redirecting his work into making contact with the dead and is not deterred by dire warnings from his daughter, his research assistant, or his colleagues that he is delving into forbidden areas of knowledge. He moves his laboratory to an isolated New England mansion where he continues to try to reach out to his dead wife. He is aided by his mentally-challenged servant Karl and abetted by the obsessive Mrs. Walters, a phony medium, who seems to exert a sinister influence over him. When their overly curious housekeeper discovers the truth about their experiments, her death brings the local sheriff in to investigate. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

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Taglines:

A mad wizard pierces the veil beyond the grave! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Completed December 1940, released February 3, 1941. See more »

Goofs

Dr. Julian tells Mrs. Walters she had 10,000 volts pass through her body. Volts do not flow or pass, amps do. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Julian Blair: Anne dear, your mother is not dead, not really. She's come back to me!
See more »

User Reviews

 
Creepy tale has lots of atmosphere but silly plot...
4 September 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

BORIS KARLOFF is a scientist who wants to communicate with the brain waves of his dead wife. His daughter narrates the tale and concludes with: "It is dangerous to communicate with the dead." That's about the impression the viewer gets after seeing what happens in the course of a brisk one hour and six minutes.

Columbia produced this low-budget feature and gave the directing chores to Edward Dmytryk, who would later go on to bigger and better things at RKO. But it's an efficient thriller thanks to his direction and the low-key, shadowy photography that makes the absurd story at least come to life on occasion.

Enjoyable too are the performances of ANN REVERE as a sinister housekeeper who knows all about Karloff's experiments and what goes on behind the locked doors of his laboratory; DOROTHY ADAMS as an inquisitive servant who agrees to check out the lab and gets locked inside; and KENNETH MacDONALD as the Sheriff determined to find out who is responsible for all the missing bodies from the graveyard.

It's typical Karloff stuff and he lends his commanding presence to the role with more dignity than it deserves. If it emerges as a better than average horror vehicle, it's because director Dmytryk is at the helm, but the script is absurd. The low-budget production values are neatly hidden by all the shadowy photography.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 February 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil Commands See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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