Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, January 4, 2008


MAD LOVE (1935). Director: Karl Freund.

One of the most fascinating horror films ever made, this features a superb performance by Peter Lorre as brilliant surgeon Dr. Gogol, who is tormented by his unrequited obsession with a beautiful actress,Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake). Gogol buys a life-like statue of Yvonne from a wax musem and sets it up in his living room. When her husband, a great concert pianist named Stephen Orlac, has his hands hopelessly mangled in a train wreck, Gogol operates but tells no one that he has replaced Orlac's hands with the hands of a murderer, a knife thrower, who was recently guillotined. The hands take on a life of their own, as Gogol plots to remove Orlac from the scene so that Yvonne will belong to him alone. Lorre's portrait of what seems like a decent man (in contrast to Orloc's hateful step-father, who comes off as a real monster) driven to insane, evil acts by a torturous and maddening infatuation, holds the film together despite the bizarre moments and disruptive comedy relief of a nervous reporter. Fine script (various writers), vivid direction, very atmospheric photography (Gregg Toland, Chester Lyons), impressive art direction (Cedric Gibbons), a fast pace and not a dull moment.

Verdict: Great. They don't make 'em like this anymore. ***1/2.

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