Bad Boys for Life
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Obviously the special effects look lame today, but were well-done in its day. Besides that, it's a good story line
Standard story of man falsely accused, sent to prison, escapes and returns for vengeance. But, the twist is in how the man who's been wrong exact his revenge - by using a secret miniaturization process to to create living dolls that he then sells, in drag no less, to do his nefarious bidding! Well played by Barrymore and the rest of the cast set in belle époque Paris. The special effects, considering the film was made in 1936, are extremely well done. And, like many old movies, they manage to tell the entire story in under 90 minutes. Well worth watching.
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.
Tod Browning surely had a knack for making strange movies with queer plots and characters, and technical brilliance. This good production is entirely in this spirit with truly marvelous special effects. Lionel Barrymore became a revelation to me with his superior performance in a dual role. His rendering of Madame Mandilip instantly brought to mind Robin Williams' Ms. Doubtfire and don't Barrymore's charisma and manner of speaking remind you of Jack Nicholson?
Very enjoyable (for the most part) 1930s comedy thriller, with Lionel Barrymore having great fun in Old Mother Riley drag as a wrongly-convicted banker out to get revenge on his former colleagues, using miniaturised human 'dolls' (but of course). After a strong opening the film does lose energy, but it's redeemed by good performances, special FX and a spooky Franz Waxman score.
Two men escape prison together. One is an old scientist, and the other is a middle-aged man in jail for embezzling his bank practice, but he claims that his partners framed him. The younger man helps get the older man back to his home and laboratory. There he sees the old man is obsessed with shrinking animals and even humans down to miniature sizes. In some ways, he succeeds, but the brain function of the shrunken individuals breaks down. They become tiny mindless drones that follow commands of their creator without question. The younger man questions the morality of the old man's work. Later, he plots to use the miniature drones posed as realistic dolls to get revenge on his partners and reclaim his name. There is supposed to be a dark suspense to the movie but the tiny people are just not very threatening. The filmmakers seemed fascinated by the camera technology of making miniature people on film. This movie comes off the heels of the Bride of Frankenstein, which used these techniques in a more limited and more effective way. There is actually enough story content and substance with the characters to save the movie from falling into cheesy chiller movie territory. In fact, I would rather see the escaped prisoner outsmart those wronged him in the shadows on his own. The story of men escaping prison and man seeking revenge on his partners would actually be better without the tiny sinister drones.
Impressive special effects for "The Devil Doll" starring Lionel Barrymore who is actually related to actress Drew Barrymore. I recommend this movie and "Freaks" which was also directed by Tod Browning.
Certainly original, even if you are struck by the the overall bizarreness of the story. Barrymore is a great actor, but him as a lady seemed a bit unbelievable.
in browning's skillful hands this 1 is creepy
You don't recognize a prisoner of life itself?
An escaped convict from Devil's Island wants revenge on those that sent him there. While on the island, the prisoner learned how to shrink humans and animals into miniature form. The convict shrinks some people and makes them help him gain revenge. Will the convict be successful in executing his plot?
"She's an inbred, peasant, half-whit."
Tod Browning, director of Dracula (1931), Freaks, The Unknown, London After Midnight, Mark of the Vampire, Iron Man (1931), The Mystic, and The Unpainted Woman, delivers The Devil-Doll. The storyline for this picture was fun and entertaining and reminded me a little of Gulliver's Travels (the way the little people were used). The special effects were better than average and the acting was very good. The cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton, and Grace Ford.
"Why don't you bury the little girl here?"
The Devil-Doll is a movie I came across while flicking through Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for movies to DVR this Halloween season. The plot sounded worthwhile so I gave it a shot. It is a little slow and cheesy at times, but the overall premise and execution is pretty good. I recommend seeing this if you're a fan of classic horrors but I wouldn't add it to my DVD collection.
"You have only hatred in your heart."