Combustible Celluloid
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With: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sara Haden, Edward Brophy, Henry Kolker, Keye Luke, May Beatty, Billy Gilbert
Written by: John L. Balderston, Guy Endore, based on a novel by Maurice Renard
Directed by: Karl Freund
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 68
Date: 07/12/1935

Mad Love (1935)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Hands Down

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Peter Lorre stars in Mad Love as a surgeon, Doctor Gogol, who becomes obsessed with actress Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) and pays to see her perform every night. Her husband is a famous composer and pianist, Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive); he sends signals to her during his radio performances. On his way back from one, his train crashes and he loses his hands. Yvonne takes advantage of Gogol's affections for her and begs him to restore her husband's hands. He does, replacing them with a convicted knife thrower, Rollo (Edward Brophy), who was recently executed. Stephen finds his hands have their own sense memory. There's a murder, and Stephen is blamed. Meanwhile, Gogol covets a wax figure of Yvonne; his drunken housekeeper, who constantly sees double, cares for it as if it were real, and poses as the dead Rollo, wearing a frightful metal contraption to make it look as if his head has been re-attached. Based on the old "Hand of Orlac" story, which was filmed many times, Mad Love is arguably the best of them; it's directed by Karl Freund, whose greatest achievements were as a cinematographer (on The Last Laugh, Metropolis, Dracula, and others), but who directed two great films, this and The Mummy. He brings an Expressionist's style to the film, especially in Gogol's chambers, while Lorre gives one of his greatest performances.

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