US movie (1936). MGM. Pr Edward J Mannix. Dir Tod Browning. Screenplay Guy Endore, Garrett Fort, Eric von Stroheim. Based on Burn, Witch, Burn! (1932 Argosy; exp 1933) by A Merritt. Starring Lionel Barrymore (Paul Lavond), Lucy Beaumont (Mme Lavond), Claire du Brey (Mme Coulvet), Pedro de Cordoba (Charles Matin), Grace Ford (Lachna), Robert Greig (Emil Coulvet), Arthur Hohl (Radin), Frank Lawton (Toto), Maureen O'Sullivan (Lorraine Lavond), Rafaela Ottiano (Malita), Henry B Walthall (Marcel). 79 mins. B/w.
Banker Lavond, swindled by his partners, has spent 17 years on Devil's Island. He escapes with archetypal mad scientist Marcel, who has developed a way of miniaturizing animals and even people; those miniatures, however, can function only under the telepathic guiding will of their animator. Marcel dies of a heart attack; Lavond goes with Marcel's equally mad assistant Malita to Paris, where he disguises himself as a toymaker, Mme Mandilip (> Gender Disguise), and uses miniaturized people to exact his Vengeance on the swindlers. In Merritt's original story the miniaturization was effected by Alchemy; Browning chose to adopt a Technofantasy plot device instead, but the precise mechanism used is soon forgotten in what is, despite its Horror-Movie pretensions, a charming, whimsical fantasy. The excellent spfx, uncredited, were reportedly achieved by a team headed by A Arnold Gillespie. [JG]