The Mad Genius

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This article is about the film. For the American football coach, see Mike Leach (coach).
The Mad Genius
The Mad Genius 1931 Poster.jpg
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Written by Harvey Thew
based on the play The Idol (1929) by Martin Brown
Starring John Barrymore
Marian Marsh
Donald Cook
Charles Butterworth
Music by David Mendoza conducting the Vitaphone Orchestra
Cinematography Barney McGill
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • November 7, 1931 (1931-11-07)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Mad Genius (1931) is an all-talking pre-code horror drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film stars John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Cook, Charles Butterworth, and in small roles, Boris Karloff and Frankie Darro. The film is based on the play The Idol (1929) by Martin Brown, which opened in Great Neck, New York but never opened on Broadway.


The Mad Genius tells the story of an itinerant puppeteer (Barrymore) running the life of a male ballet dancer (Cook), as opposed to Svengali, where Svengali (Barrymore) ran the life of a female singer (Marsh).


Warner Bros. was so pleased by the box office returns for Svengali (1931) and their first talking feature The Terror (1928), also starring Barrymore and Marsh, that they rushed The Mad Genius into production, and released it on 7 November 1931.


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