The Mad Genius (1931)

79 or 81 mins | Drama | 7 November 1931

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Cinematographer:

Barney McGill

Editor:

Ralph Dawson

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

This was John Barrymore's last film for Warner Bros. According to modern sources, art director Anton Grot created a look similar to that of German Expressionist films. He used muslin ceilings on the sets, in contrast to the more usual practice of open ceilings to allow for easier lighting. Muslin ceilings were so uncommon that cinematographer Gregg Toland was applauded for their use in the 1941 film, Citizen Kane ... More Less

This was John Barrymore's last film for Warner Bros. According to modern sources, art director Anton Grot created a look similar to that of German Expressionist films. He used muslin ceilings on the sets, in contrast to the more usual practice of open ceilings to allow for easier lighting. Muslin ceilings were so uncommon that cinematographer Gregg Toland was applauded for their use in the 1941 film, Citizen Kane . More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
25 Oct 31
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 31
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Oct 31
p. 36, 38
New York Times
24 Oct 31
p. 20.
Variety
27 Oct 31
p. 19.
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 November 1931
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 October 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2604
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79 or 81
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Club-footed Russian puppeteer Ivan Tsarakov is able to live his frustrated ambition to dance ballet through his protegé, Fedor Ivanoff. Tsarakov makes Fedor the greatest dancer in the world, even providing him with women. When Fedor falls in love with fellow dancer Nana Carlova, however, Tsarakov is convinced she will ruin him as a dancer. Consequently, he encourages the attentions of Count Renaud, hoping he will lure Nana away from Fedor, and when that fails, he fires Nana from the company. Fedor overhears Tsarakov talking to Nana and leaves with her. Together in Paris, the two lovers are happy at first, but as Tsarakov has informed all the ballet companies that Fedor is tied to an exclusive contract with him, Fedor is reduced to work in a cabaret. When Tsarakov's company opens in Paris, Nana begs him to give Fedor his job back. Tsarakov agrees on the condition that Nana leave Fedor for Renaud and she consents. Fedor is once again dancing, but he has become bitter and dictatorial. On opening night, he sees Nana in a box with Renaud and realizes that she still loves him. When he refuses to continue with the dance, Tsarakov threatens to kill him. Just before the curtain rises, ballet master Serge Bankieff, who is crazed by the drugs that Tsarakov supplies, kills Tsarakov. Liberated by Tsarakov's death, Fedor and Nana are ... +


Club-footed Russian puppeteer Ivan Tsarakov is able to live his frustrated ambition to dance ballet through his protegé, Fedor Ivanoff. Tsarakov makes Fedor the greatest dancer in the world, even providing him with women. When Fedor falls in love with fellow dancer Nana Carlova, however, Tsarakov is convinced she will ruin him as a dancer. Consequently, he encourages the attentions of Count Renaud, hoping he will lure Nana away from Fedor, and when that fails, he fires Nana from the company. Fedor overhears Tsarakov talking to Nana and leaves with her. Together in Paris, the two lovers are happy at first, but as Tsarakov has informed all the ballet companies that Fedor is tied to an exclusive contract with him, Fedor is reduced to work in a cabaret. When Tsarakov's company opens in Paris, Nana begs him to give Fedor his job back. Tsarakov agrees on the condition that Nana leave Fedor for Renaud and she consents. Fedor is once again dancing, but he has become bitter and dictatorial. On opening night, he sees Nana in a box with Renaud and realizes that she still loves him. When he refuses to continue with the dance, Tsarakov threatens to kill him. Just before the curtain rises, ballet master Serge Bankieff, who is crazed by the drugs that Tsarakov supplies, kills Tsarakov. Liberated by Tsarakov's death, Fedor and Nana are reunited. +

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.