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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.
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 ...
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.
definitely no classic, but very watchable.