Revisiting the Classics: THE MAD MAGICIAN
I’d never seen this one before. I was missing out. Starring a young Vincent Price and a young but detestable Ava Gabor, and directed by John Brahm, who also gave us THE UNDYING MONSTER and THE LODGER, among others, this one isn’t among the more well-known films by Price. That’s a shame, because it’s really quite an excellent little movie. Price plays a put-upon magician, a genius with gifts for mimicry and the fashioning of illusions, treated as a Willy Loman by everyone in his life: the guy who stole both his wife and all his tricks, the rival magician who never misses a chance to mock him, the gold-digging ex. Price snaps early in the picture, then spends the remainder using his skills to keep one step ahead of the goody-two-shoes police detective who is dating Price’s assistant. In many ways the role prefigures the later and better known DR. PHIBES.
The movie is an acting tour-de-force for Price. Sometimes you forget just how talented the guy was, and in this project he puts all his skills on display. My only gripe is that he didn’t get away with it; you’re rooting for him the entire time, even as he ratchets up the body count. But back in those days, the bad guy could never be allowed to win and the monster always had to die at the end. Aside from that, I loved this movie. You should most definitely check it out.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!