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Svengali (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | December 1954 (UK)
Story of genius who hypnotizes an artist's model into becoming a great concert singer, and how she escapes from his influence only by his death.


Noel Langley


George L. Du Maurier (from the novel by) (as George du Maurier), Noel Langley (screen play)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hildegard Knef ... Trilby (as Hildegarde Neff)
Donald Wolfit ... Svengali
Terence Morgan ... Billy
Derek Bond ... The Laird
Paul Rogers ... Taffy
David Kossoff ... Gecko
Hubert Gregg ... Durian
Noel Purcell ... Patrick O'Ferrall
Alfie Bass ... Carrell
Harry Secombe ... Barizel
Peter Illing ... Police Inspector
Joan Haythorne Joan Haythorne ... Mrs. Bagot
Hugh Cross Hugh Cross ... Dubose
David Oxley ... Dodor
Richard Pearson ... Lambert


Story of genius who hypnotizes an artist's model into becoming a great concert singer, and how she escapes from his influence only by his death.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

December 1954 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Farlig makt See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Colour by) (EASTMAN Colour)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Robert Newton was originally hired to play Svengali with a specific clause in the contract about the actor's drinking, but after a few days of shooting his erratic behavior resulted in his being replaced by Donald Wolfit. Newton fled to Australia where he filmed The Adventures of Long John Silver (1955), but when he returned he found himself facing a $375,000 breach of contract suit from the producers. See more »


Svengali: If you choose you can put all that nonsense behind you forever.
Trilby O'Farrall: And do what, starve?
Svengali: Not if you put your trust in me absolutely, not if you do exactly what I tell you to do.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Paris The Latin Quarter at the turn of the Century See more »


Version of Svengali (1914) See more »

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User Reviews

SVENGALI (Noel Langley, 1954) **1/2
23 January 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Apparently this is the tenth(!) screen version of George Du Maurier's "Trilby" but only the second one I have watched myself thus far – the other being the classic 1931 John Barrymore version from Warner Brothers entitled SVENGALI, of course. Presently, I will also be getting to the similarly-titled modernized TV version of 1983 starring Peter O'Toole and Jodie Foster but, for the record, there are two more adaptations I am most interested in, which are Maurice Tourneur's Silent original TRILBY (1915; which is available on DVD from Alpha!) and the "BBC Play Of The Month" TV version from 1976 with Alan Badel. Anyway, back to the version at hand: apart from the truly wretched copy I got saddled with (comprising constant combing and intermittent freezing issues!), I quite liked this handsomely-mounted and literate (if clearly stage-bound and clumsily edited) adaptation that benefits greatly from two excellent central performances: albeit a last-minute replacement for the ailing Robert Newton and clearly overweight for the role of the insufferable Svengali, Donald Wolfit's bizarrely effective combination of Bela Lugosi's looks and Frankie Howerd's voice earned him a nod at the British Film Awards; on the other hand, the overage but beautiful Hildegarde Neff is suitably moving as the innocently sensual gamine Trilby. The rest of the notable cast includes Terence Morgan (as Little Billy), David Kossoff (as Gecko), Noel Purcell (as Trilby's father), Michael Hordern (as Morgan's disapproving minister uncle) and, as starving Parisian painters, Alfie Bass, Harry Secombe and Michael Craig!

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