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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Devil-Doll (1936) - Tod Browning


The 1936's Devil-Doll is a crazy mix of Frankenstein, The Littles, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Sounds strange enough right? This movie marks the steep decline in quality and in popularity of Tod Brownings work. He really picked up steam by directing classics like Dracula and Freaks, however he wasn't able to maintain that level of quality. Instead he retired from directing in 1939 and fell out of society; completely cutting himself off from everyone, including his family, until his death in 1962.

This movie is really intriguing with its use of the early "green screen" work and its other effects. That is really what drives the film. Other than that the movie sort of falls flat and ends very bizarrely.

Lionel Barrymore (Great uncle of Drew Barrymore) and Marcel are on the run after escaping from prison. Marcel is a great scientist and he drags Barrymore to his experiments once they escape. The experiments Marcel performs involve shrinking things down to 1/6th their original size. For the most part he carries out these feats of size reduction on his seemingly endless supply of dogs. The doctor has a heart attack and before he dies tells his vision of the world to Barrymore and his assistant (some lady with a limp). The Lady, determined to finish the doctor's work, decides that Barrymore must help her realize the late doctor's dream. So naturally Barrymore just becomes a doctor in about 5 minuets. He even comments "I couldn't help, I was a Banker". How does this guy just up and become a scientist?It bugs me! The movie goes on from there with Barrymore using the method used to shrink things to clear his name, and then lives out the rest of his years in peace. That is pretty much the entire movie.

There are some freaky parts like when he tortures his victims by paralyzing them with a tiny dagger dipped in paralyzing potion, or when Lionel Barrymore dresses up as an old woman to allude the police. His make-up is pretty uncanny. You wouldn't even know that you were looking at veteran actor of the stage and screen.

I feel like going to be a surgeon now.

  • Also known as "The Witch of Timbuktu"
  • Filmed in Hollywood, CA
  • Filmed on 35mm

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