The Devil Doll (1936): The movie that puts the horrible in horror!
Just the description of it is enough to scare a person out of his wits! Here are some of the salient features: Devil’s Island Prison Camp in French Guyana, harrowing escape from said prison camp, central character played by an aging silent movie star who died before the film was released, wife of this character wears her hair in a modified Bride of Frankenstein do, an incredible shrinking St. Bernard dog, an incredible shrinking circus horse, an incredible shrinking woman, an incredible shrinking man, incredible shrunken people become the subjects of mind control by a wrongly convicted man bent on vengeance, and, saving the best for last, Lionel Barrymore in drag!
Are you scared yet?
Lionel Barrymore ... Paul Lavond
Maureen O'Sullivan ... Lorraine Lavond
Frank Lawton ... Toto
Rafaela Ottiano ... Malita
Robert Greig ... Emil Coulvet
Lucy Beaumont ... Madame Lavond
Henry B. Walthall ... Marcel
Grace Ford ... Lachna
Pedro de Cordoba ... Charles Matin
Arthur Hohl ... Victor Radin
Juanita Quigley ... Marguerite Coulvet
Claire Du Brey ... Madame Coulvet (as Claire du Brey)
Rollo Lloyd ... Detective Maurice
E. Alyn Warren ... Commissioner of Police
Tod Browning (uncredited)
Garrett Fort (screenplay) &
Guy Endore (screenplay) and
Erich von Stroheim (screenplay) (as Eric Von Stroheim)
Tod Browning (story)
Richard Schayer contributor to dialogue (uncredited)
Tod Browning .... producer
E.J. Mannix .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Franz Waxman (musical score)
Edward Ward (uncredited)
Leonard Smith (photographed by)
Film Editing by
Fredrick Y. Smith
Art Direction by
Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) has been wrongly convicted of embezzlement from his bank, on the false testimony of his former partners, the true guilty parties. Lavond is sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island, while his wife and daughter languish in poverty, ostracized as the result of the scandal. After seventeen years, he engineers an escape, in the company of his friend, Emil Coulvet. They make their way to Coulvet’s old home, where they find his wife, Malita, of the BoF do, waiting to continue Emil’s research into the miniaturization of living things.
The experiments are progressing nicely when Emil dies of an apparent heart attack. Paul agrees to join Malita in carrying on Emil’s work; however, Paul has his own agenda, to put it mildly. Paul re-invents himself as a little old lady who owns a toy shop, where real toys are marketed, as a cover to place some of the “living” toys, controlled by Paul’s mind, into the homes of his former partners.