Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!
Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.In 1936 King Edward abdicated his throne; Hoover Dam pumped power for the first time, and the last living Thylacine, a female named Benjamin, died in a Tasmanian zoo. Yes, while monarchs, Mead and marsupials, were big in the headlines, pint-sized pygmy people were all the news in 1936’s freaky film "The Devil Doll." The Trailer trumpeted: "Born of a revenge-crazed mind, the strangest story the screen has ever told."
Directed by Tod Browning, who directed Dracula with Bela Lugosi, “The Devil Doll” tells the story of an escaped jailbird, Paul Lavond, played by Lionel Barrymore, who has the power to shrink people to one-sixth their natural size. The shrinking process works well enough but, unfortunately it leaves the little people stiff like a doll and without a mind. Only Lavond can awaken their brains through his power of concentration. A convict on the run, Lavond dresses like a woman to hide himself from capture. He opens a Paris doll shop. Now old-lady Lavond sells his stiff, shrunken, mindless subjects as toy dolls to the children of the three lousy thugs who originally framed him and had him thrown into a French prison. Under the cover of night, and full drag, the androgynous Barrymore closes his eyes tightly concentrating underneath the children’s windows to brings their new dollies to life to do his revengeful bidding.
Toto’s not on the yellow brick road in this film, no, here the Cary Grant copycat drives a taxicab, while dogging the prettiest gal in town. She has some real issues, but her jabber jawing at the top of the Eiffel Tower keeps her reasoning reasonably rational, but her insanity fuse stays so short you know why Toto works double shifts.
Filled with impossibly entertaining bits, this film soars to the top of the list of Hollywood’s best from its most twisted but talented minds.
So, Turn down the lights, grab a relaxing libation, and get ready to shrink that big badgering bellyache of a boss man down to size.