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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mad Love (1935)

Mad Love is the talkie "remake" of the silent film The Hands of Orlac (1924).  With Karl Freund [Metropolis, The Golem, Murders in the Rue Morgue] in the director's chair, one would expect greatness, and greatness is what we get with Mad Love.  The direction and cinematography are top notch.  Weighing in at a lean and mean 68 minutes, everything counts and Freund give us no fluff anywhere.

Mad Love is greatly helped by its lead actors who include Peter Lorre [M, Casablanca]as the crazy but talented Doctor Gogol, who transplants the hands of a murder onto a gifted pianist after he is injured in a horrific train wreck.  Lorre is luminous as Gogol.  His performance is quite understated at times but still very powerful.  The pianist in question, Stephen Orlac, is played with equal vigor by Colin Clive [Dr. Frankenstein in the 931 classic and sequel, Bride of Frankenstein].  The two of them are great together.  

Completing the classic love triangle is Frances Drake [The Invisible Ray, It's a Wonderful World] as Mrs, Orlac.  His her acting style is a bit over the top toward the beginning of the film [typical of the period] but she settles down nicely in the second half.

While the set up of the plot is identical between the two films, Mad Love takes things in a different and better direction.  In the original silent film Orlac does battle with his hands who take on a personality of their own.  This worked well in the silent era.  But Freund wisely takes the plot in a new direction where Doctor Gogol tries to convince Orlac he's going insane by posing as the dead murderer.  It's perfect for a talkie and actually makes the overall film stronger.

Mad Love is a nice, well made thriller from the 1930's.  Although it's not widely known by the general public, it's a delightful movie that should not be missed.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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