The Devil-Doll (1936) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Devil-Doll (1936)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Oscar-winner Lionel Barrymore ("It's a Wonderful Life") stars in this classic horror thriller about a Devil's Island escapee who shrinks murderous slaves and sells them to his victims as dolls. Co-starring Maureen O'Sullivan ("Tarzan, the Ape Man") and Frank Lawton ("David Copperfield").


Lionel Barrymore
as Paul Lavond / Madame Mandilip
Maureen O'Sullivan
as Lorraine Lavond
Robert Greig
as Emil Coulvet
Lucy Beaumont
as Mme. Lavond
Grace Ford
as Lachna
Pedro de Cordoba
as Charles Matin
Arthur Hohl
as Victor Radin
Juanita Quigley
as Marguerite Coulvet
Claire Du Brey
as Mme. Coulvet
Rollo Lloyd
as Detective
E. Alyn Warren
as Commissioner
Eily Malyon
as Laundry Proprietor
Sherry Hall
as Detective
Wilfred Lucas
as Wilfred Lucas
Edward Keene
as Gendarme
Nick Thompson
as Police Sergeant
Inez Palange
as Concierge
Evelyn Selbie
as Flower Woman
Paul Foltz
as Apache Dancer
Jean Alden
as Apache Dancer
King Baggott
as Det. Pierre
Egon Brecher
as Detective
View All

News & Interviews for The Devil-Doll

Critic Reviews for The Devil-Doll

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4)

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.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Not since The Lost World, King Kong and The Invisible Man have the camera wizards enjoyed such a field day.

August 8, 2006 | Full Review…

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.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Browning's flat style keeps the action disappointingly in check.

October 3, 2002 | Full Review…

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.

October 18, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

This enjoyable film allows Lionel Barrymore the chance to go the Tootsie route.

October 17, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

Weird, silly movie. I didn't care for it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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).

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

The Devil-Doll Quotes

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