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22 user 9 critic

Black Magic (1949)

Hypnotist uses his powers for revenge against King Louis XV's court.

Directors:

Gregory Ratoff, Orson Welles (uncredited)

Writers:

Alexandre Dumas (novel) (as Alexandre Dumas père), Charles Bennett (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Orson Welles ... Joseph Balsamo aka Count Cagliostro
Nancy Guild ... Marie Antoinette / Lorenza
Akim Tamiroff ... Gitano
Frank Latimore ... Gilbert de Rezel
Valentina Cortese ... Zoraida
Margot Grahame ... Mme. du Barry
Stephen Bekassy Stephen Bekassy ... Viscount de Montagne
Berry Kroeger ... Alexandre Dumas, Sr.
Gregory Gaye ... Chambord / Monk (as Gregory Gay)
Raymond Burr ... Alexandre Dumas, Jr.
Charles Goldner Charles Goldner ... Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer
Lee Kresel Lee Kresel ... King Louis XVI / Innkeeper
Robert Atkins Robert Atkins ... King Louis XV
Nicholas Bruce Nicholas Bruce ... De Remy
Franco Corsaro ... Chico
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Storyline

Novelist Alexander Dumas tells his writer-son of Joseph Balsamo, a gypsy boy in southern France who was embittered because his parents were wrongfully hanged and he himself was tortured by the order of Viscount de Montagne. Years later, the man, a carnival charlatan, attracts the attention of Dr. Mesmer, a pioneer in the study of hypnotism. Balsamo rejects Mesmer's plea that he use his power for healing and, instead, decides to use it to seek wealth and fame. He changes his name to Count Cagliostro, and achieves fame throughout Europe by mixing hypnotism with mysticism and showmanship. He is called to cure a girl, Lorenza, held by De Montagne, because she resembles Marie Antoinette, wife of the heir to the throne of France. Cagliostro decides to join De Montagne and Madame du Barry in a plot to seize the power by discrediting the future Queen. Cagliostro achieves his revenge on De Montagne by persuading him to hang himself. He makes Lorenza marry him but can never make her love him. ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The biggest picture in ten years! The greatest cavalcade of intrigue, spectacle, adventure and excitement you'll ever see on the screen See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Italy

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 August 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cagliostro See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edward Small Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Initially, the film was to be directed in the USA by Douglas Sirk and was to star George Sanders. See more »

Goofs

Cagliostro as a child was scrawny with dark brown eyes and hair, yet he grew up big-boned, with lighter hair and eyes. A genetic impossibility. The young boy was also miscast because both the gypsy parents had blue or green eyes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in D.O.A. (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

Pure magic
2 March 2017 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

An excellent adaptation of a rather obscure (even in France) novel by Dumas who appears 'in the flesh" in the first -and a bit pointless- scene.But all that remains is quite absorbing and there's never dull moment.

The beginning displays an unusual cruelty ;the hangmen are about to scratch the boy's eyes out :in the distance ,we can see the gallows,where his parents have just been hanged .Orson Welles is absolutely stunning in his portrayal of a disturbing dreadful mysterious person,who could mesmerize (no pun intended) the crowds who stood in awe of this French Rasputin (too bad Welles never portrayed the Russian monk).

Taking with French history the largest liberties ,to put it mildly , the screenplay mixes fictionalized events with some real ones :yes,the king would play the occasional clock-maker ,a footnote of history;yes, Marie-Antoinette could not stand La Du Barry and she had her sent to a convent for two years after Louis The Fifteenth 's death;actually the affair of the necklace occurred about ten years after in 1785. Dumas replaced the Dramatis Personae by his own characters: thus Lorenza unintentionally plays the role of Madame De La Motte ,of evil memory,and the Viscount of Montaigne that of The Cardinal De Rohan ,a naive man who wanted to attract the queen's attention .On the other hand,Cagliostro did take part in the greatest French swindle of the eighteenth century (the queen was totally innocent,in spite of the liars Madame De La Motte would write ,in her obnoxious memoirs ).Cagliostro ,nevertheless,did not die after the trial but about ten years later (apoplexy):he got a life sentence,after being tried for heresy by the papal court .

The love affair is almost devoid of interest ,but it's Welles that counts and he delivers the goods: the scene of the would be sick people in the palace of Versailles ,or Cagliostro digging up Lorenza ( a Poesque scene) can still grab today's audience.


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