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The Clairvoyant
The Evil Mind

UK 1934
produced by
Michael Balcon for Gainsborough/Gaumont British
directed by Maurice Elvey
starring Claude Rains, Fay Wray, Jane Baxter, Mary Clare, Ben Field, Athole Stewart, C. Denier Warren, Donald Calthrop
screenplay by Charles Bennett, Bryan Edgar Wallace, based on the novel by Ernst Lothar, music by Arthur Benjamin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Maximus (Claude Rains) makes a living appearing as a clairvoyant in theatres. Of course, his whole show is a well-rehearsed act with his wife Rene (Fay Wray) acting as his assistant and his partner in crime, and he couldn't predict the future if his life depended on it, but the audience seems to like the show. Then during a show, Maximus makes an actual prediction - and nobody could be more surprised than himself. Later on a train, he suddenly senses it is going to crash, pulls the emergency brake and gets off the train with his entourage. The train really crashes.

The traincrash makes a minor celebrity out of Maximus, and he soon gets his own big time show at a London theatre ... but fails to make even a single prediction. The problem: Christine Shawn (Jane Baxter), who acts as a sort of catalyst to his power (without Maximus or even herself knowing it) - she has been present at both his predictions but absent ever since. When the two next meet, Maximus accurately predicts the winner of a horserace - which gives him real celebrity status ... and Christine Shawn sees to it that he makes the best of his newly found fame, because her father runs the town's biggest newspaper - oh, and she's in love with him, did I mention that? Of course, the mere presence of Christine triggers some kind of jealousy in Rene and she threatens to leave him ...

Then Maximus predicts the collapse of a tunnle shaft still under construction and the death of half the work force, and when no newspaper including Christine's father'swants top print the story he goes to the shaft himself to warn the workers - who are herded into the tunnle by their employers anyways, and of course disaster strikes.

The construction company is now more than eager to put the blame of causing the disaster on someone else, and they find the perfect scapegoat in none other than Maximus - after all, they argue, he has caused the very panic that led to the disaster. Maximus is put on trial and it looks as if he's going to be convicted, but then he predicts that part of the miners are able to free themselves, and when that happens, the trial turns in his favour and he's back to being a star again - but he has seen what his power can cause, and thus he breaks up with Christine for good, takes his wife and goes to America to tour witht he vaudeville with his old act.


So ok, this film's story is rather far-fetched even if you can accept a real clairvoyant, and the film's direction by veteran Maurice Elvey is at times rather static and old-fashioned even for 1934 - but despite all that, The Clairvoyant is a rather entertaining little film, mainly due to its great cast wonderfully led by Claude Rains and Fay Wray, and a certain light tone in storytelling that keeps the film from becoming pure kitsch.

In all, definitely no classic, but very watchable.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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directed by
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written by
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out now on DVD