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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 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

Production Co:

George Minter Productions See more »
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 BBC Play of the Month: Trilby (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Colourful costume romp with some ham acting
11 October 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

SVENGALI is a British-made version of the classic story about the evil hypnotist who creates a famous singer out of a young and untalented girl. In essence this tale is Rasputin in the music world, and it's quite a fun and eventful storyline.

The main reason to enjoy this film is the performance of Donald Wolfit (BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE) in the title role. He seems to be channelling Bela Lugosi in both look and voice throughout the movie, and his hammy style of acting is a lot of fun; the other actors in the production feel flat by comparison.

The film as a whole isn't perfect - there's a little too much sappy romance going on, and events are never as exciting or dramatic as the producers would hope for - but the lush colours and costumes of the mid 1950s give this the look and feel of an early Hammer Horror outing. Hildegard Knef (later of Hammer's THE LOST CONTINENT) is fine as the youthful protégé, and it's fun to see Terence Morgan (CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB) before he got typecast as the bad guy.

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