Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Devil-Doll (1936)

Starring Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Rafaela Ottiano, Robert Greig
Directed by Tod Browning
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An escaped convict with a grudge against the men who imprisoned him accompanies a fellow escapee to his laboratory, where he finds the man is experimenting with shrinking living creatures.

Another memorable horror film from Dracula director Tod Browning, and one wonders if the story might have originally been developed for his former star Lon Chaney, as Barrymore dons drag to hide his identity, similar to Chaney's performance in Browning's The Unholy Three.  Barrymore should be given credit for a convincing turn as his female persona, effectively replacing his distinctive voice with a high-pitched old lady's.  The "devil-doll" effects show their age when inserted into scenes with other actors, but the full-size mockups of tables, stairs, and small furniture scaled by the tiny people are first-rate, enhancing the believability of the production, which for a revenge tale, has an unusually sweet center as Barrymore's character tries to reconcile with O'Sullivan's.

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