The Devil-Doll

Discussion in 'Classic' started by dwatts, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    16,580
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Crashed
    This is on a two-fer with Mad Love, and just about the only thing that prevented me from being completely blown away by it was that I'd watched Mad Love immedietaly prior to it, and that was monumental.

    This one though is quite a bit of fun too. It's almost as though they took a shade from Bride of Frankenstein and them ironed it out to see what happened. Lionel Barrymore, of course, has the most to do, and the disguise really isn't up to much, but in the xcontext of the film it works quite well. It also doesn't simplify the morality too much, leaving us with a bitter sweet climax.

    The FX hold up surprisingly well too.

    Really enjoyed this one, and as a double-bill with Mad Love.... will I'd probably watch this first and THEN Mad Love, rather than the other way around. Either way, truly worth seeing this.
     
  2. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Messages:
    7,941
    Likes Received:
    679
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Illinois
    I agree it seems like Browning was trying to outdo Whales' Bride of Frankenstein, but I must disagree with it being anything but a mockery of horror. Lionel Barrymore in drag as an old woman running around Paris menacing old men? It's probably the most bizarre film I've seen, I couldn't see it as anything but a joke. I also saw Mark of the Vampire as trying to out do James Whale's Old Dark House, again failing miserably (and I don't even like Old Dark House). Seemed like Tod Browning was jealous of Whales.

    I also didn't think the SFX were very good, all the composites were very messy. Once again Whales did a better job with Invisible Man. The scaled sets they built were very good though.
     
  3. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    16,580
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Crashed
    Oh, I always take the time these were made very much into account. It's easy to pick hoels in films such as Invisible Man - which is far from perfect - and this, but given what they had to work with I think they did marvellously.

    The injections of humor into these films sometimes works for me, and other times not. I've never liked it in Bride of Frankenstien for instance. On the other hand, I really like Old Dark house - it's worth it for me just to see the opening ten minutes or so as they drive through the storm and there's a mud slide. Excellent stuff.

    Still, these were studio films, driven from what the studio wanted - so I'm not sure how much scope each Director actually had, hence I'm not sure of the validity of the idea of copying Whale has. Couldn't it have simply been that the studio had success with Whale product, so wanted more films of the type made?

    And agreed, this is a thriller/horror film - with emphasis of the thriller. The very idea is pretty preposterous, but then many of these films were.
     
  4. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Messages:
    7,941
    Likes Received:
    679
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Illinois
    It's not so much that it's preposterous as it's the simple fact that I don't want to see Lionel Barrymore playing an old maid in a horror film as the villian. I just think it's one of the worst possible ideas I've ever heard and frankly I'm amazed they could get the green light for it. Suspension of disbelief only works when it's something you want to believe in.

    If you took him out of drag, and perhaps made him the scientist instead, I would have pretty easily liked it. I also didn't like that he's pretty much an anti-hero on paper but in portrayal is a straight hero.
    After all he shrinks some unsuspecting girl, forces her to do his bidding, gets her killed and in the end he just walks. Yet it's played out like a happy ending.

    Also The Invisible Man came out three years before Devil-Doll. I think that's fair game for comparison. I don't give movies a free pass just because they're old. If I walked out of a theater after seeing this in 1936 even in context I would still be saying, "I saw better special effects in The Invisible Man and Lionel Barrymore is all wrong for this."
     
  5. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    16,580
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Crashed
    Hm, what would my reaction be in 1936..... no idea. But yes, I do cut these films some slack due to their age. Their antiquity means plot holes, poor FX work, and poor staging can be more readily accepted. I think I could pretty much tear apart just about any of the 30's and 40's horrors to be honest, but it wouldn't give me half the satisfaction of giving in to poor FX, ridiculous science, and hammy acting.

    I do think the character here is somewhat confused. Good guy/bad guy. I think in the end he'd probably have to be a bad guy (for the reason you stated). But then a tone of injustice runs through the film - in just about every character, is nonetheless interesting.

    Invisible Man is a film I've only recently come to truly enjoy. Prior to that the vein of humor in it sank it for me. I've come to be able to endure it rather than enjoy it - the FX are the least of Invisible Man's problems, imo. However, I do think it's valid to compare the film on the level of FX when they reasonably close to each other (just 3 years). Comparing it to Jurasic Park might be going too far, but Invisible Man, no, not for me.

    And yeah, the science here is very silly indeed, though what can be achieved in a swamp is nothing short of incredible. :D
     

Share This Page