Welcome to William Schoell's GREAT OLD MOVIES blog. Feel free to leave a comment regardless of the date the review was posted -- I read 'em all. Or if you prefer -- and especially if you have any questions directly for me -- email me at tawses67424@mypacks.net and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Click on a label link (labels can be found at the bottom of each post) to find other movies from that year, the star, that director or genre and so on. Or enter a title, director, genre, star or supporting player in the small Blogger "search blog" box at the far left up above and click search blog. [NOTE: While this blog mostly reviews films -- and TV shows -- that are at least twenty-five years old, we do cover films up until the present day.] HAVE FUN AND THANKS FOR DROPPING BY. William.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


SVENGALI (1931). Director: Archie Mayo.

"Trilby in England would be like a butterfly in mutton soup."

The impoverished music instructor Svengali (John Barrymore) meets a young model named Trilby (Marian Marsh) and exerts his influence over her. Svengali has not stood the test of time, now coming off as quite dated and hokey, although the sparse, impressionistic sets with the huge corridors are striking. Barrymore can't seem to make up his mind if he's playing Svengali or Rasputin, and the picture doesn't seem to know if it's serious or a black comedy. In any case, it seems to be over just as it's getting interesting. Bramwell Fletcher and the always reliable Donald Crisp are also in the cast, and Carmel Myers makes an impression as a pupil of Svengali who loves him and makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Verdict: Barrymore should not be measured by this movie. **.


Laura said...

Anyone familiar with the delicious scene from Seinfeld (the TV show) where Elaine, under the hypnotic spell of her psychiatrist (and former boyfriend), refers to him as a Svenjolly? Too funny! - Laura

William said...

I loved Seinfeld but I must have missed that episode. Maybe in reruns .. ! Thanks for sharing.