The Mad Genius

  • 1931
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

THE MAD GENIUS was an unsuccessful sequel to SVENGALI (1931). Not that it had the same characters, just that it had much the same story and the studio seemed to be attempting to fly on the coattails of the latter. Barrymore is a raving lunatic, a marionettist whose mother had been a Russian ballerina. His own club foot has kept him from following a career...read more

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THE MAD GENIUS was an unsuccessful sequel to SVENGALI (1931). Not that it had the same characters, just that it had much the same story and the studio seemed to be attempting to fly on the coattails of the latter. Barrymore is a raving lunatic, a marionettist whose mother had been a

Russian ballerina. His own club foot has kept him from following a career of pirouettes and pas de deux, so when he saves Darro from the abuse of his foster father, Karloff, he is heartened to see that the young boy is a natural dancer. He raises Darro until the boy grows into Cook, then takes on

the job of producing for a well-known ballet company, where his stars are Cook and Marsh (who was Trilby to Barrymore's Svengali). The man who stages the dancing is Alberni, a genius and a junkie. Cook and Marsh are attracted to each other and Barrymore attempts to keep them apart but it's too

late. Cook and Marsh leave the ballet company and go to Paris where they are soon dancing in a Montmartre cafe until Marsh leaves him for a wealthy baron and Cook returns to the ballet company. One night, Cook spots Marsh in the audience and wants to see her, but Barrymore's grip on the youth is

such that he can't bring himself to do it. (Earlier Barrymore had hypnotized Marsh into running off with the baron and it is with him she sits at the theater.) Alberni goes mad from drugs and kills Barrymore with an axe and the body rolls onto the stage. Cook covers it, and, later, he and Marsh

are reunited, now that Cook is out from under Barrymore's influence. There appears to have been some talk that part of this story was based on the life of Nijinsky, but that has not been confirmed. Orson Welles laid claim to having been the first director to shoot ceilings in films, yet this

picture belies that as designer Grot had sets built with fabric ceilings that are clearly seen several times. The public stayed away from THE MAD GENIUS despite good direction by Curtiz and a wonderfully hammy star turn by Barrymore.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: THE MAD GENIUS was an unsuccessful sequel to SVENGALI (1931). Not that it had the same characters, just that it had much the same story and the studio seemed to be attempting to fly on the coattails of the latter. Barrymore is a raving lunatic, a marionett… (more)

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