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Devil-Doll, The

Entry updated 14 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1936). MGM. Directed by Tod Browning. Written by Browning, Garrett Fort, S Guy Endore, Erich von Stroheim, based on Burn, Witch, Burn! (1933) by A Merritt and "The Witch of Timbuctoo" by Browning. Cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Frank Lawton and Maureen O'Sullivan. 79 minutes. Black and white.

In this film by the director of Dracula (1931) and Freaks (1932), a man (Barrymore) wrongly convicted and sent to Devil's Island returns to Paris, where he uses Miniaturized people for revenge. He disguises himself as an old-lady toymaker and sends his six-inch (15cm) humans as toys (see Toys in SF) to the homes of his enemies; in the middle of the night the "toys" come to life and carry out his telepathic instructions. The illusion of miniaturization is perfectly created by the use of giant sets and skilfully executed travelling mattes – the work of the MGM special-effects department, then headed by A Arnold Gillespie. Though the original novel used alchemy for miniaturization, this uses a supposedly scientific electrical device. [JB/PN]


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