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Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE DEVIL-DOLL (1936)


Six years after his death, M-G-M was still keeping that Lon Chaney mojo going in this fantastical tale of revenge. Lionel Barrymore (in the putative Chaney role) makes an escape from Devil’s Island with a mad scientist who specializes in reducing animals who remain alive though no bigger than a toy. Hmm. Soon, back in Paris, he disguises himself as a kindly doll-making madame and is able to plant murderous ‘living dolls’ in the homes of the men who framed her (er . . . him) for embezzlement. Thanks to some remarkably fine trick camera work and the cleverly wound plot, the story manages to stay just this side of ridiculous, and some of it is seriously creepy. It’s helped by an unusually fine cast for this sort of film; Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan, Frank Lawton & Rafaela Ottiano were fresh off the superb adaptation of DAVID COPPERFIELD/’35 and Robert Grieg, Arthur Hohl & Henry B Walthall, all expert scene stealers, provide tasty turns. Connecting the dots is Lon Chaney’s favorite helmer, Tod Browning, in his last major release, who finally makes a sound film that compares favorably with the best of his silent work. Check out THE UNKNOWN/’27 to see the Chaney-Browning team at its greatest . . . and sickest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Robin Williams,i have bought tickets
from TicketFront.com looking forward to it.