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The Mephisto Waltz (1971)

An old, dying satanist arranges to transfer his soul into the body of a young concert pianist.


Paul Wendkos


Ben Maddow, Fred Mustard Stewart (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Alda ... Myles Clarkson
Jacqueline Bisset ... Paula Clarkson
Barbara Parkins ... Roxanne
Bradford Dillman ... Bill Delancey (as Brad Dillman)
William Windom ... Dr. West
Kathleen Widdoes Kathleen Widdoes ... Maggie West
Pamelyn Ferdin ... Abby Clarkson
Curd Jürgens ... Duncan Ely (as Curt Jurgens)
Curt Lowens ... Agency Chief
Gregory Morton Gregory Morton ... Conductor
Janee Michelle Janee Michelle ... Agency Chief's Girlfriend
Lilyan Chauvin ... Woman Writer
Khigh Dhiegh ... Zanc Theun
Alberto Morin ... Bennett
Berry Kroeger ... Raymont


Myles Clarkson, a classical piano player on the rise, befriends Duncan Mowbray Ely, a famous player himself who is at death's door. Unknown to Clarkson, Ely is a Satanist, who arranges to have their souls switch places at his death, so that he can be young again and continue to play piano. Written by Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...The Sound of Terror See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 58206 delivered on 11 May 1971. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Myles Clarkson: We could use a new brand of Scotch. This tastes like a poor man's kilt.
See more »


Featured in Trailer Trauma 2: Drive-In Monsterama (2016) See more »


The Mephisto Waltz
Written by Franz Liszt
See more »

User Reviews

"I want Myles. Whoever he is."
2 August 2018 | by seeingbystarlightSee all my reviews

This is a disturbing tale of poisoned love. But the movie is a collosal disappointment. I've read Fred Mustard Stewart's terrific novel. And although the movie (to it's credit) stays very faithful to the source material, the casting, and an incredibly poor script, deal a death blow to the film adaptation.

The plot revolves around Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda), a failed musician-turned-journalist, who, still longing for his piano playing days, lands an interview with famous pianist Duncan Ely (Curd Jurgens) who at first is very hostile til he notices Myles hands.

This is an important detail. One the audience needs to keep in mind...

Because once this detail is noticed, Ely does a complete one eighty, and along with his daughter Roxanne (Barbara Parkins), proceeds to woo Myles with dinners, presents, offers of friendship. And, of course, free use of his piano.

Myles is swept up. Overwhelmed. Completely lost in their glamorous thrall.

His wife Paula (Jacqueline Bisset) is suspicious, and has every right to be. There's something not quite right about this couple.

And as the plot progresses, we learn what it is. And when we do, we're not really all that shocked.

Is it any surprise that Ely and Roxanne have been having an incestous affair? Is it any surprise that they're Satanists? Is it any surprise that Myles has been seduced completely?

The story really is terrific. With an ending that's as disturbing as Paula's insane love for her husband which causes her to overlook the fact that he murdered their daughter as part of a deal with Satan and Ely.

All of this, the novel conveys brilliantly. The problem is the movie doesn't at all.

Not only does fail to onvey Paula's enamourment with Myles, it also grossly miscasts the characters.

Paula's obsession with Myles is never conveyed well in the script. Roxanne (a femme fatale in the novel) has been reduced here, to a weak, trembling waiffe.

And Alan Alda is a good actor. He's just not good for this. He has no sex appeal, making it ridiculous that women like Paula and Roxanne are getting into a cat fight over him.

It's a little bit like them getting into a cat fight over Woody Allen... only worse: With Woody Allen it's hysterical; with Alan Alda, it's just plain stupid.

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English | French

Release Date:

11 June 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Satan's Transplant See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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