6.1/10
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45 user 35 critic

The Mephisto Waltz (1971)

Alan Alda's character is a music journalist whose career as a piano player came to an end when his debut concert received undeservedly scathing reviews.

Director:

Paul Wendkos

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Alda ... Myles Clarkson
Jacqueline Bisset ... Paula Clarkson
Barbara Parkins ... Roxanne Delancey
Bradford Dillman ... Bill Delancey (as Brad Dillman)
William Windom ... Dr. Roger West
Kathleen Widdoes Kathleen Widdoes ... Maggie West
Pamelyn Ferdin ... Abby Clarkson
Curd Jürgens ... Duncan Mowbray 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 Khigh Dhiegh ... Zanc Theun
Alberto Morin ... Bennett
Berry Kroeger ... Raymont
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Storyline

Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda), a classical piano player on the rise, befriends Duncan Mowbray Ely (Curt Jurgens), 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

Taglines:

When was the last time you were afraid? Really afraid? See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

11 June 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Satan, mon amour See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The mask worn by the black dog is that of William Shatner, the same style mask worn by Michael Myers in the original Halloween (1978). See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

[Myles is going to light a cigarette]
Duncan Ely: Oh, throw that disgusting cylinder away!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinemacabre TV Trailers (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

The Mephisto Waltz
Written by Franz Liszt
See more »

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User Reviews

He Just Doesn't Seem His Old Self
20 January 2008 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Too bad this neglected horror film got lost in the wake of the similarly themed Rosemany's Baby. Modestly successful journalist Alan Alda suddenly becomes a successful concert pianist following a chance meeting with piano virtuoso Duncan Ely (Curt Jergens) and his darkly seductive daughter, Roxanne (Barbara Parkins). His growing involvement with the wealthy family and their strange friends eventually comes between Alda and his loving wife, Paula (Jackie Bissett). As sinister events unravel, Paula is drawn deeper into a web of diabolic happenings until the threads come together in a surprising and oddly gratifying climax.

The script is tight and well-thought out, with the exception of Dillman's role as Roxanne's ex-husband. After all, if the diabolists are so sexually compelling, how could he divorce her. And though director Paul Wendkos occasionally goes overboard with the camera tricks, the scenes are stylishly done, especially the banquet with its snatches of pretentious banter, and the New Years party with its erotic grotesqueries bound to end in an orgy. And underneath it all lies an undercurrent of evil, even during the brightest splashes of sunlight.

Though Alda gets star billing, it's actually Bissett's movie, which she carries off in finely shaded fashion. Her scenes with the ominously silent Roxanne (just count Parkins' few lines) amount to an exquisite model of civilized contempt, minus the fisticuffs. Alda too, shines, as he acts out Ely's imperious manner at just the right moments, proving in those pre-MASH days that he was more than the humorously caustic Hawkeye Pierce.

As good as the movie is, I can't help wondering if it might have been even better had the mystery not been exposed as early as it is. Suppose the script had skipped the transference ritual and simply had Alda take on Ely's characteristics without explanation, such that the audience would have to ponder what's going on, instead of having it handed to them. There may have been good reasons for not taking this mystery route, but at least it's worth considering.

Still and all, Waltz remains a fine example of movie horror done in both color and sunny surroundings, and with a lot of style and conviction. Too bad, it's slipped into movieland's version of yester-year oblivion. It deserves better. And, if nothing else, the script raises the scary question of whether dogs really are man's (woman's) best friend.


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