The Devil-Doll (1936)
as Paul Lavond / Madame Mandilip
as Lorraine Lavond
as Emil Coulvet
as Mme. Lavond
as Charles Matin
as Victor Radin
as Marguerite Coulvet
as Mme. Coulvet
as Laundry Proprietor
as Wilfred Lucas
as Police Sergeant
as Flower Woman
as Apache Dancer
as Apache Dancer
as Det. Pierre
News & Interviews for The Devil-Doll
Critic Reviews for The Devil-Doll
The director, cameraman and art department make the most of it, but the writers' contribution is lacking in originality and seldom is equal to the idea in back of it.
Not since The Lost World, King Kong and The Invisible Man have the camera wizards enjoyed such a field day.
Browning had made Freaks at MGM, much to Mayer's disgust, and in working out his contract he had to lighten his uniquely dark vision, though the scene of a doll climbing out of a Christmas tree is effectively chilling.
The scares may be dated, but the miniaturised special effects, relying on oversized props, are still enthralling, and the offbeat fantasy atmosphere Browning expertly conjures up is highly unusual.
Audience Reviews for The Devil-Doll
Tod Browning's second-to-last film is campy as hell, and ya gotta love Lionel Barrymore in drag exacting revenge on enemies of his using miniaturized people he can control (but of course). The effects were great for the time period, and they're still entertaining today, including the use of giant props and inserting cut-out footage of people (and animals) into other scenes. Browning had a great eye for weirdness and the macabre, and creates real suspense with the idea that a person a few inches tall could track someone down in their apartment. Those scenes in the middle of the film are fantastic. Barrymore is strong, and Maureen O'Sullivan is just fine too; she plays the daughter who hates him for having been sent to prison and bringing shame on the family. The idea is excellent, but both the beginning and ending of the film include moments that strain credibility. I don't mind it in the science fiction that creates the technology or even the creator keeling over at just the right moment, but the melodrama at the end is all artificial and relies on a character motivation that is absurd. I have to believe that Browning was impacted by the Hays Code, which wouldn't have allowed an alternate. (I'm being vague here to avoid spoilers). I considered a slightly higher rating because of that, as it seems unfair to Browning, but have to judge it for the end product. Regardless, the film is entertaining and unique, and I would enjoy watching it again some rainy night.
Weird, silly movie. I didn't care for it.
A revenge-minded escaped convict lucks into a process for miniaturizing people, then controlling them with his mind. With it's shrunken murdering Frenchies and Lionel Barrymore in drag (!) this should have been a campy creep classic, but it flounders on the obtrusive subplot about the convict reconciling with his daughter (Maureen O'Sullivan).
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