Mad Love


Mad Love

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 12


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,068
User image

Watch it now

Mad Love Photos

Movie Info

In his first American film, Peter Lorre portrays egg-bald Dr. Gogol. A brilliant and highly respected surgeon, Gogol would give up everything he has in life for the love of Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake), star of the Parisian Horror Theatre. But Yvonne is deeply in love with her husband, concert pianist Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive). When Orlac loses his hands in a train accident, Yvonne pleads with Gogol to save her husband. Perversely, he does so by grafting the hands of a recently executed murderer onto Orlac. Not only is Orlac unable to resume his musical career, but he has suddenly developed a peculiar talent for throwing knives; he also has a bad habit of attempting to win arguments by throttling his opponents. Gleefully exploiting his patient's torment, Gogol disguises himself as the executed killer and tries to convince Orlac that he, Orlac, was responsible for a recent murder. In a effort to prove her husband's innocence, Yvonne goes to Gogol's home and switches places with a lifesize replica of herself that the obsessive Gogol keeps in his living room. Only the last-minute intervention of Orlac saves Yvonne from being strangled by the crazed Gogol. The first of several film versions of Maurice Renard's The Hands of Orlac, Mad Love was directed by cinematographer Karl Freund. Its deployment of certain visual elements that would later (consciously or otherwise) be adopted by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane brought Mad Love a surfeit of latter-day attention when Pauline Kael annotated the resemblances in her 1971 New Yorker article on Kane (Ms. Kael's assessment of Mad Love as a "dismal, static horror film" is both unfair and untrue).


Peter Lorre
as Doctor Gogol
Colin Clive
as Stephen Orlac
Frances Drake
as Yvonne Orlac
Ted Healy
as Reagan
Henry Kolker
as Prefect Rosset
May Beatty
as Francoise
Keye Luke
as Dr. Wong
Isabel Jewell
as Marianne
Clarence Wilson
as Piano Creditor
Sam Ash
as Detective Arresting Stephen
Ian Wolfe
as Henry Orlac
Sarah Padden
as Mother of Lame Girl
Billy Gilbert
as Autograph Seeker on Train
Charles Trowbridge
as Dr. Marbeau
Carl Stockdale
as 'The Notary'
Hooper Atchley
as Train Conductor
Cora Sue Collins
as Gogol's Lame Child Patient
View All

Critic Reviews for Mad Love

All Critics (12) | Fresh (12)

Audience Reviews for Mad Love

  • Oct 10, 2018
    Certainly worth watching for its dark plot and Peter Lorre, but not without its flaws. Positives: - Peter Lorre is ... well, Peter Lorre. Does anything else need to be said? He is such an incredible screen presence, and here you seem in the role of a doctor obsessed with an actress (Frances Drake), and in one scene, in a fantastic neck brace get-up to look as if he's an executed man who's had his decapitated head sewn back on. - Camp value. The premise, that the hands of the executed murderer sewn on to a pianist (Colin Clive) who has lost his own in an accident, and now exert a will of their own over him, is of course a stretch, but to me it's a fun premise. - Darkness. The doctor stalks the actress, attending every one of her performances, and in one memorable scene, we see half of his face in the balcony looking down on her. He enjoys seeing the scenes of hers in the play where she's tortured, later creepily kisses her on the mouth during a party, and after acquiring a wax figure of her, plays music to it each night. This all culminates in him calmly trying to strangle her, saying "And so I find a thing to do with all her hair... in one long raven string I wind three times her little throat around... and strangle her. No pain feels she. I am quite sure she feels no pain." Negatives: - Plot. The film never really realizes its full potential, either because it was edited down to 68 minutes, or because the storytelling is not as strong as it could be. Even within its abbreviated run time, it seems a little mangled or complicated. Possibly because of the production code, the film makes Lorre the murderer, when its whole premise is to say it the pianist himself should have been because either (1) he now has the hands of a murderer, or (2) he's easily subject to suggestion from Lorre. It makes zero sense for him to have committed the crime, and then to begin boasting about it aloud, when he thinks he's alone. As he does so, the actress is pretending to be the wax statue in his room and she clearly reacts to the news, and even though he's staring at her right in the face, he doesn't notice. I have to say, the jump Lorre takes from ardent to deranged is also awfully abrupt. - Comedic attempts. Ted Healy in the role of a reporter is annoying instead of funny, and takes away from the tone of the film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2010
    This is a remake of the 1924 Austrian film The Hands of Orlac. This movie is the American film debut of acting great Peter Lorre, and unfortunately the last film directed by Karl Freund (The Golem, Metropolis, and The Mummy). Many film enthusiasts consider this movie to be Freund's Citizen Kane. This film is more fleshed out than the 1924 original, and features some spectacular performances by Peter Lorre and the beautiful Frances Drake. The film is full of suspense and mystery and delivers some really creepy parts via Lorre's character and his obsession with Ms. Drake's character Yvonne Orlac. He keeps a wax mannequin of her around so that he can comfortably confess his love or whatever. The film centers around Dr. Gogol (Lorre) who longs for the affections of Yvonne (Drake). Yvonne is married to a composer and pianist named Steven Orlac. At least he was a pianist before being injured in a train wreck where his hands were completely destroyed. Dr. Gogol, at the request of Yvonne, performs a groundbreaking hand transplant surgery on her husband. Unfortunately the hands used during the procedure are that of a killer...and they still want blood. If you aren't really familiar with older, suspenseful, tasteful, horror films I suggest that you go out and pick up this movie. You will not be disappointed. The sets are fantastic, the acting is superb, the story is fleshed out just enough for you to really be able to sink your teeth into it. This has to be one of the greatest horror films of all time. This movie is getting the coveted 10 out of 10 rating. This film is perfect. The delivery is up there with any other horror film and it is dark, brooding and just plain creepy. It shows that you don't need gore or great special effects to make an amazing horror movie. Each man kills the thing he loves S!D
    Brandon S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 07, 2010
    I usually hate Peter Lorre, but I didn't mind him in this. I found it fairly 'meh' though. For a simple plot and a short film, it took a long time for things to happen.
    Lauren D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2010
    I'm madly in love with this movie and Peter Lorre! It's so beautiful and horrific all at once, very romantic. If you love old horror movies, you must see this one.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

Mad Love Quotes

News & Features