The Devil-Doll

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For the 1964 British film, see Devil Doll (film).
The Devil-Doll
Devil dollposter.jpg
Directed by Tod Browning
Produced by Edward J. Mannix
Written by
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Edited by Frederick Y. Smith
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • July 10, 1936 (1936-07-10)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Devil-Doll (1936) is a horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring a cross-dressing Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan as his daughter, Lorraine Lavond. The movie was adapted from the novel Burn Witch Burn! (1932) by Abraham Merritt.[1]


Paul Lavond (Barrymore), who was wrongly convicted of robbing his own Paris bank and killing a night watchman more than seventeen years ago, escapes Devil's Island with Marcel (Henry B. Walthall), a scientist who is trying to create a formula to reduce people to one-sixth of their original size. The intended purpose of the formula is to make the Earth's limited resources last longer for an ever-growing population. The scientist dies after their escape.

Lavond joins the scientist's widow, Malita (Rafaela Ottiano), and decides to use the shrinking technique to obtain revenge on the three former business associates who had framed him and to vindicate himself. He returns to Paris and disguises himself as an old woman that sells lifelike dolls. He shrinks a young girl and one of his former associates to infiltrate the homes of the other two former associates, paralyzing one.

When the final associate confesses before he is attacked, Lavond clears his name and secures the future happiness of his estranged daughter, Lorraine (O'Sullivan), in the process. Malita isn't satisfied, and wants to continue to use the formula to carry on her husband's work. She tries to kill Paul when he announces that he is finished with their partnership, having accomplished all he intended, but she blows up their lab, killing herself.

Paul tells Toto, Lorraine's fiancé, about what happened. He meets his daughter, pretending to be the deceased Marcel. He tells Lorraine that Paul Lavond died during their escape from prison, but that he loved her very much. Lavond then departs, to an uncertain fate.



Thrilling Wonder Stories termed the film a "disappointment", calling it :a run-of-the-mill thriller which does not attempt to recapture the unique fantasy of Merritt's novel".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 by The American Film Institute, c.1993
  2. ^ "Scientifilm Review", Thrilling Wonder Stories, p.119

External links[edit]