Diary of a Madman (film)
|Diary of a Madman|
Promotional movie poster for the film
|Directed by||Reginald Le Borg|
|Produced by||Robert E. Kent
Edward Small (uncredited)
|Written by||Robert E. Kent|
|Based on||stories by Guy de Maupassant including The Horla|
|Music by||Richard LaSalle|
|Cinematography||Ellis W. Carter|
|Edited by||Grant Whytock|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||March 6, 1963 (U.S.)
July 12 (Finland)
August 26 (Sweden)
|Running time||96 minutes|
The screenplay, written by producer Robert Kent, is an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's short story "Le Horla" ("The Horla"), written in 1887. Kent's rendition is notably divergent from the source material, especially in relation to the religious and moral themes of the film, which contradict not only those of the short story, but Maupassant's as well.
Following the funeral of Simon Cordier (Vincent Price), a French magistrate and amateur sculptor, his secret diary is read out by Simon's pastor friend to a group of people gathered around the table, Simon's servants, and a police captain. The diary transpires that Simon has come into contact with a malevolent entity. The invisible yet corporeal being, called a horla is capable of limited psychokinesis and complete mind control.
Cordier first interacts with the horla when he meets a prisoner whom the horla drove to commit murder. The horla possesses the inmate and attempts to kill Cordier, who in self-defense accidentally kills the man. The magistrate inherits the prisoner's troubles as the horla and turns its hauntings toward him.
As the horla begins to destroy Cordier's life, he fears he is going mad and seeks help from a psychologist, who effectively suggests a hobby. Cordier chooses to pick up his old interest in art, meeting a model along the way. The horla insists the model is not the charming jewel that Cordier sees, but instead a conniving gold digger, and compels Cordier to treat her as such. This sets up a conflict in Cordier, that he might not be the astute judge of character that his title indicates.
As his and others' lives are put in jeopardy, he becomes convinced of the horla's existence and decides drastic measures are needed to end the horla's evil. He lures the horla into his house at night. When his presence is felt, Simon hurls an oil lamp towards the curtains, setting the house ablaze.
Simon succeeds in destroying the horla, but not without sacrificing himself as the house burns in flames. The film concludes with the people seated round the table agreeing that so long as the horla, which they believe to be a figment of Simon's imagination, exists in the hearts of Man, evil will prevail.
Thus, the horla is viewed as a metaphor of evil.
- Vincent Price as Simon Cordier
- Nancy Kovack as Odette Mallotte DuClasse
- Chris Warfield as Paul DuClasse
- Elaine Devry as Jeanne D'Arville
- Ian Wolfe as Pierre, Cordier's Butler
- Stephen Roberts as Captain Robert Rennedon
- Lewis Martin as Fr. Raymonde
- Mary Adams as Louise, Cordier's Cook
- Joseph Ruskin as The Horla (voice)
Production and reception
- New York Times, film overview.
- 'Brothers Grimm' Has World Preview: First Dramatic Production Shown on Cinerama Screen Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 July 1962: C7.
- M.C.A. WILL DROP ITS TALENT OFFICE: Hollywood Giant Complying With Rule on Producers By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 July 1962: 34.
- Article on Diary of a Madman at Turner Classic Movies accessed 9 June 2013
- Diary of a Madman' Fanciful Horror Film Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Apr 1963: C9
- 'Diary of a Madman' New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 June 1963: 37.
- Diary of a Madman at the Internet Movie Database
- Diary of a Madman at TCMDB
- Diary of a Madman at AllMovie
- The Horla - Complete text of the short story.
- Full English text of "The Horla" (University of Virginia Electronic Text Center)
- Full English text of "The Diary of a Madman" by Guy De Maupassant (Project Gutenberg)