This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (August 2016)
|The Mad Genius|
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Written by||Harvey Thew|
based on the play The Idol (1929) by Martin Brown
|Music by||David Mendoza conducting the Vitaphone Orchestra|
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
The Mad Genius (1931) is an American pre-Code horror drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film stars John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Cook, Charles Butterworth, and in small roles, Boris Karloff and Frankie Darro. The film is based on the play The Idol (1929) by Martin Brown, which opened in Great Neck, New York but never opened on Broadway.
A crippled puppeteer, Ivan Tsarakov (Barrymore), is frustrated that he will never dance ballet. He adopts a protegé, Fedor Ivanoff (Darro as a child, Cook as an adult), whom he makes into the greatest dancer in the world. Fedor falls in love with a dancer, Nana Carlova (Marsh), but Tsarakov fears that she will ruin Fedor as a dancer. He tries to separate them and ultimately fires Nana from the ballet troupe. Fedor runs away with Nana to Paris, but Tsarakov has blacklisted him, and he cannot get ballet jobs and is reduced to working in a cabaret. Nana begs Tsarakov to give Fedor his job back. Tsarakov agrees, if Nana will leave Fedor and marry another man; she agrees. Fedor returns embittered; he sees Nana on opening night and realizes that she still loves him; he refuses to dance. Tsarakov threatens to kill him, but the ballet master, under the influence of drugs that Tsarakov has given him, kills Tsarakov. Fedor is reunited with Nana.
In the film Svengali, released earlier the same year, Barrymore played the title character who similarly manipulated the life of a female singer, also played by Marsh.
- John Barrymore as Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov
- Marian Marsh as Nana Carlova
- Charles Butterworth as Karimsky
- Donald Cook as Fedor Ivanoff
- Luis Alberni as Sergei Bankieff
- Carmel Myers as Sonya Preskoya
- Andre Luguet as Count Robert Renaud
- Frankie Darro as Young Fedor
Warner Bros. was so pleased by the box office returns for Svengali (1931), also starring Barrymore and Marsh, and their first talking feature The Terror (1928), that they rushed The Mad Genius into production, and released it on 7 November 1931.
According to Warner Bros the film earned $278,000 domestically and $122,000 foreign.
The film survives complete. It was printed on 16mm film by Associated Artists Productions in the 1950s for screenings by American television stations. It is preserved in the Library of Congress collection.
- Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 13 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
- John Sedgwick, Mike Pokorny, "Hollywood’s foreign earnings during the 1930s", 83 TRAC 1 (1) pp. 83–97 Intellect Limited 2010 p92
- The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993:The Mad Genius
- 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV
- Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.109 c.1978 by The American Film Institute