The Mad Magician (1954)

Article #1375 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-19-2004
Posting Date: 5-18-2005
Directed by John Brahm
Featuring Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor

A magician begins disposing of people who get in his way.

This movie was made as a follow-up to HOUSE OF WAX; like the earlier movie, it was made in 3D, featured Vincent Price, took place in a period setting, and featured set-pieces to show off the 3D effects (a yo-yo spinner, a hawker with a fake extendable hand, a magician who throws cards out at the audience and sprinkles them with water). Unfortunately, the story feels cobbled together (though certain individual scenes work well enough), and it lacks the mood and ambiance of the earlier movie. It also has a few distractions; whatever Price’s talents were, he wasn’t a master mimic, and every time he goes into disguise as someone else the dubbing is painfully obvious. It’s also hard to believe that Eva Gabor (Price’s scheming amoral ex-wife) was ever “innocent” as described by Price, but that may have been the magician’s own innocence shining through. One scene of the movie features Price disguised as his first murder victim while disposing of that same victim’s body, which is a clever idea. Unfortunately, the method of disposal (the body is disguised as a dummy and placed publicly on a huge pile of wood for a bonfire) had my deja vu bells going off, and when I noticed that the director was John Brahm, I knew where I had seen this method before; in Brahm’s earlier movie with Laird Cregar HANGOVER SQUARE.


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