Svengali (1931 film)
|Directed by||Archie Mayo|
|Written by||J. Grubb Alexander
based on the novel Trilby by George du Maurier
|Edited by||William Holmes|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||81 minutes|
Svengali (1931) is an all-talking pre-code drama/horror film produced and distributed by Warner Brothers. The film stars John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, and Bramwell Fletcher. It was directed by Archie Mayo and the screenplay was written by J. Grubb Alexander. It is based on the gothic horror novel Trilby (1894) by George du Maurier. The film was originally released on May 22, 1931. Warner Brothers was so pleased by the box office on this film that the studio hurriedly reteamed Barrymore and Marsh for another horror film The Mad Genius, released on November 7, 1931. The region 1 DVD of Svengali was released on October 17, 2000 by the Roan Group.
The ending of the novel is changed in this film to a highly dramatic one by having Trilby die after Svengali is stricken with a fatal heart attack, instead of dying of a mysterious illness a few days later. She faints after he collapses in the stage box, but Svengali revives long enough to gasp, "Oh God, grant me in death what you denied me in life—the woman I love". Trilby regains consciousness, smiles happily, utters "Svengali!", then dies, followed by Svengali, who dies smiling. In the film Billee survives.
In CBS's 60s Biography episode on John Barrymore narrated by Mike Wallace, some scenes from Svengali are shown with mood or background music. The music does add effect tremendously to the scenes but it is CBS's own canned archive music and is not in the original feature film.
Marian Marsh may have been chosen as Trilby because she strongly resembled Barrymore's wife Dolores Costello.
Apocalyptica's video for their music Shadowmaker contain scenes from the movie. The lyrics are loosely inspirated by it.
Cast (in credits order)
- John Barrymore as Svengali
- Marian Marsh as Trilby O'Farrell
- Donald Crisp as The Laird
- Bramwell Fletcher as Billee
- Carmel Myers as Madame Honori
- Luis Alberni as Gecko
- Lumsden Hare as Monsieur Taffy
- Paul Porcasi as Bonelli
- "NY Times: Svengali". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
- Svengali at the Internet Movie Database
- Svengali is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Svengali at AllMovie