Review: ‘Svengali’

Formerly well known as Trilby via famed novel [by George Du Maurier] and stage interpretations, the studio renamed it to designate the villainous hypnotist as the leading character.

Formerly well known as Trilby via famed novel [by George Du Maurier] and stage interpretations, the studio renamed it to designate the villainous hypnotist as the leading character.

Story, of course, is well known, but Svengali (John Barrymore) here makes it clear that Trilby (Marian Marsh), the model has been the house guest of several artists so that her desire to become legally attached to the pursuing young Englishman is not going to be without family difficulties. He hypnotizes her into running away with him and also into a career as a concert star.

Barrymore’s playing is interesting, sterling and in broad strokes. Marsh takes a change for the better on looks in the late footage, but flashes nothing unusual histrionically.

1930/31: Nominations: Best Cinematography, Art Direction

Svengali

Production

Warner. Director Archie Mayo; Screenplay J.G. Alexander; Camera Barney McGill; Art Director Anton Grot

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 79 MIN.

With

John Barrymore Marian Marsh Bramwell Fletcher Donald Crisp Lumsden Hare Carmel Myers
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