Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)

  • The Magician (1926) - Plot Summary - In the Latin Quarter of Paris, an attractive young Sculptor named Margaret (Alice Terry) is paralyzed after her latest creation, a gigantic statue of an evil Faun, breaks in half and falls on top of her. A young American surgeon, known for helping someone else in a similar situation, is recruited to perform a miracle surgery - it works, and he declares Margaret the "most beautiful" patient he's ever had. Romance blossoms between the handsome doctor and his patient, but lurking about (he was even in the viewing room while her operation was being performed) is one Oliver Haddo (Paul Wegener), described via title card as a "Hypnotist, Magician - and student of Medicine". After a long search, he has recently found an "ancient Magician's formula" which contains the secret for the creation of human life by magic - the formula requires the "heart blood of a Maiden" and he has ideas to kill Margaret and get her blood so he can try out the formula in a mad, real life experiment! Haddo starts stalking around after her, making her uncomfortable 'cause he seems to pop up wherever she goes - at the park, at a snake charmer's tent at a Fair (where he demonstrates his powers of magic over a poisonous snake bite), and then he turns up at her apartment. He hypnotizes her and brings her into a trance as she sees her Faun sculpture come to life, bringing her into a hellish vision a la Dante's Inferno. Now having lost her free will via Haddo's hypnotic power, she does whatever he says though she knows it's not right - when he sends a note for her to come to his place, she does. Next day is her scheduled wedding to the doctor, but instead she sends a note revealing she has married Haddo! Now Haddo, forever the mad scientist, intends to go through with his plan to bring the ancient formula to life - but before he does that, he takes his new wife to Monte Carlo where he uses his magic to make her a winner on the roulette wheel! Soon enough though - the big finale one dark and stormy night, as Haddo gets ready to enact his "experiment" and brings kidnapped Margaret to his laboratory located in a hilltop Sorcerer's Tower - luckily her boyfriend doctor is on his way to the rescue, with poor Margaret tied up and Haddo holding a knife to her heart!

    Review - Interesting silent horror film with a rather wild plotline that's fun to watch. Actor Paul Wegener hams it up to the hilt as the caped madman Haddo, a Svengali to his victim as he mesmerizes her, eyes popped out and glazing as a close-up of his face fills the screen. Yes, he comes across as creepy, but almost in a comical way. Alice Terry is an actress that I always enjoy seeing, her beau here is played by actor Ivan Petrovich and he seems like a good match to her, their character's romance coming across realistically. The film includes excellent cinematography and art direction with atmospheric, realistic settings filmed on-location in France and a neato cliff-top castle to set the mood for the final action scenes. Enjoyed the scene at the Fairgrounds which features some interesting visuals including a ride on a merry-go-round. The print I saw of this, as screened on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), looked good and featured tints in sepia-yellow, a few scenes tinted pink - and the scenes of the pit of hell fire tinted red, for a nice effect. It features a nicely done music score by Robert Israel that includes some famous classical pieces (Night on Bald Mountain, etc.) that match the action well. Quite entertaining film; it is based on a novel written by W. Somerset Maugham. Rating - * 8/10 stars *

    Director: Rex Ingram
    Film Genre: Fantasy / Horror
    Film Runtime: 83 minutes

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10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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