Article 2880 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-27-2009
Posting Date: 7-2-2009
Directed by Maurice Tourneur
Featuring Wilton Lackaye, Clara Kimball Young, Paul McAllister
A musician named Svengali decides to make his fortune by using his hypnotic powers to turn a Paris model into a singer.
IMDB lists eleven versions of the Du Maurier story, seven of which feature Trilby’s name in the title and five of which feature Svengali’s name in the title; the reason it adds up to twelve rather than eleven is that one version is called TRILBY AND SVENGALI. It’s not surprising that the use of Trilby’s name is more common, as that is the title of the original novel, but I’ve always felt Svengali was the more interesting character, and I’m not surprised that the most interesting movie version of the story is the one with the most striking performance of that character; namely, John Barrymore’s version from 1931. This version is quite good, but I don’t find Wilton Lackaye’s performance to be near as memorable as Barrymore’s, and I suspect that I’ll find this true about any of the other versions of the story I encounter. This marks either the third or fourth version of the story I’ve seen; it depends on whether you count ELLA LOLA A LA TRILBY, which, personally, I don’t.