Diary of a Madman (1963)

96 mins | Horror | 10 April 1963

Director:

Reginald LeBorg

Writer:

Robert E. Kent

Producer:

Robert E. Kent

Cinematographer:

Ellis W. Carter

Editor:

Grant Whytock

Production Designer:

Daniel Haller

Production Company:

Admiral Pictures
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HISTORY

The 20 Jun 1962 DV announced the upcoming production, provisionally titled The Horla, based on the 1886 story by Guy de Maupassant. Production charts in the 20 Jul 1962 DV reported the start of principal photography on 18 Jul 1962 at Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood, CA. Filming was completed 2 Aug 1962, as stated in the following day’s DV.
       Retitled Diary of a Madman, the picture opened 10 Apr 1963 in Los Angeles, CA, and 5 Jun 1963 in New York City to mixed reviews. While the 12 Apr 1963 LAT predicted the film would titillate “enough customers to prove successful at the boxoffice,” the 13 Mar 1963 Var described it as “stylistically uninspired.” According to the 10 Apr 1963 DV, the picture opened in early Apr 1963 in San Francisco, CA, earning only $3,400 on a double bill with Amazons of Rome (1963). It was re-released in late 1964 with Twice Told Tales (1963, see entry), as evidenced by box office reports in the 16 Dec 1964 Var.
       A review in the 17 Apr 1964 NYT revealed that a stage production, also titled Diary of a Madman, was currently running in New York City. However, the source material was a short story by Nikolai ... More Less

The 20 Jun 1962 DV announced the upcoming production, provisionally titled The Horla, based on the 1886 story by Guy de Maupassant. Production charts in the 20 Jul 1962 DV reported the start of principal photography on 18 Jul 1962 at Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood, CA. Filming was completed 2 Aug 1962, as stated in the following day’s DV.
       Retitled Diary of a Madman, the picture opened 10 Apr 1963 in Los Angeles, CA, and 5 Jun 1963 in New York City to mixed reviews. While the 12 Apr 1963 LAT predicted the film would titillate “enough customers to prove successful at the boxoffice,” the 13 Mar 1963 Var described it as “stylistically uninspired.” According to the 10 Apr 1963 DV, the picture opened in early Apr 1963 in San Francisco, CA, earning only $3,400 on a double bill with Amazons of Rome (1963). It was re-released in late 1964 with Twice Told Tales (1963, see entry), as evidenced by box office reports in the 16 Dec 1964 Var.
       A review in the 17 Apr 1964 NYT revealed that a stage production, also titled Diary of a Madman, was currently running in New York City. However, the source material was a short story by Nikolai Gogol. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1962
p. 8.
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1962
p. 11.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1963
p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
5 Apr 1963
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1963
Section C, p. 9.
New York Times
5 Jun 1963
p. 31.
New York Times
6 Jun 1963
p. 37.
New York Times
17 Apr 1964
p. 29.
Variety
13 Mar 1963
p. 6.
Variety
16 Dec 1964
p. 8.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Horla
Release Date:
10 April 1963
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 April 1963
New York opening: 5 June 1963
Production Date:
18 July--2 August 1962
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1886, French magistrate Simon Cordier kills a condemned murderer in self-defense, thereby inheriting the Horla, an evil spirit that had possessed his victim. Following several mysterious occurrences, Cordier is visited by the Horla and ordered to kill his pet bird. His will gone, he has no choice but to obey. In an attempt to quiet his nerves, Cordier resumes his hobby of sculpting and falls in love with his model, Odette Duclasse. She neglects to tell the magistrate of Paul, her estranged artist husband, but agrees to run away with him; on the eve of their departure, however, Cordier obeys the Horla's command to murder her. The following morning, unaware of what he has done, Cordier goes to his attic and is horrified to discover Odette's decapitated head resting on the bust he has sculpted. When police arrest Paul for the murder, Cordier maintains silence, even though Jeanne, daughter of art gallery owner Andre D'Arville, pleads with the magistrate to protest her lover's innocence. The Horla then orders Cordier to murder Jeanne, but the reflection of a crucifix awakens him from his murderous trance, and he decides to destroy the evil spirit. Sensing its vulnerability to fire, Cordier awaits the Horla's next visit, then sets his study aflame, killing both himself and his oppressor. As Cordier's will and diary are read, a priest who has been telling the story remarks that the Horla will continue to live wherever evil exists in the heart of ... +


In 1886, French magistrate Simon Cordier kills a condemned murderer in self-defense, thereby inheriting the Horla, an evil spirit that had possessed his victim. Following several mysterious occurrences, Cordier is visited by the Horla and ordered to kill his pet bird. His will gone, he has no choice but to obey. In an attempt to quiet his nerves, Cordier resumes his hobby of sculpting and falls in love with his model, Odette Duclasse. She neglects to tell the magistrate of Paul, her estranged artist husband, but agrees to run away with him; on the eve of their departure, however, Cordier obeys the Horla's command to murder her. The following morning, unaware of what he has done, Cordier goes to his attic and is horrified to discover Odette's decapitated head resting on the bust he has sculpted. When police arrest Paul for the murder, Cordier maintains silence, even though Jeanne, daughter of art gallery owner Andre D'Arville, pleads with the magistrate to protest her lover's innocence. The Horla then orders Cordier to murder Jeanne, but the reflection of a crucifix awakens him from his murderous trance, and he decides to destroy the evil spirit. Sensing its vulnerability to fire, Cordier awaits the Horla's next visit, then sets his study aflame, killing both himself and his oppressor. As Cordier's will and diary are read, a priest who has been telling the story remarks that the Horla will continue to live wherever evil exists in the heart of man. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.