on 24 June 2011
A genuinely spooky tale from 1935, The Clairvoyant is a cracking film, full of excitement and with an over-riding sinister air, as Maximus (Claude Rains), a phony music hall fortune teller discovers he does indeed possess genuine clairvoyant powers.
The entire cast give very believable performances and I was reminded of Hitchcock's work in British films at about the same period. Mary Clare, as Maximus' mother, is extremely good and her acting in a key scene is quite remarkable. You'll know which scene wnen you watch the film.
This was one of several films made in England at this time by American star Fay Wray, hot on the heels of her success in King Kong. She and Jane Baxter(a now sadly forgotten actress)compliment each other as the women in Maximus' life.
The Clairvoyant is of course now rich in authentic period feel and the music hall scenes are very similar to those in The Thirty-Nine Steps, made the same year. A worthy addition to the Best of British series guaranteed to excite any viewer, the print used is pretty good although not without minor blemishes as would be expected.
Having not seen this movie since I don't know when, watching it again was like being reunited with a long-lost friend, I totally agree with the views expressed by fellow reviewer William Taylor in his excellent review.
Directed by the prolific Maurice Elvey, with a substantial contribution from uncredited producer Michael Balcon, Elvey does a fine job in creating an enjoyable atmospheric thriller.
Claude Rains follows up his excellent performance from a few years earlier in "The Invisible Man" with another impressively well-rounded performance, expertly conveying the emotions of his troubled character "The Great Maximus". Fay Wray also produces a sensitive performance as Rains wife, subtly displaying a range of emotions as she fears losing her husband, with Jane Baxter also putting in a good performance as "the other woman" who threatens the couple's marriage.
The suspenseful atmosphere is skilfully built up as the clairvoyant's phoney mind-reading act eventually leads to the correct prediction of a train crash - followed by the nightmare scenario of being accused of causing accidents.
The movie also features a number of familiar faces from the 1930's, including Felix Aylmer, (Will Hay fans can keep an eye out for a young Graham Moffatt in a small role, playing the part of a page boy). Undoubtedly one of the best British movies of the 1930's, if you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock's early British output, this movie is worthy of your attention.
Considering the age of the movie, picture and sound quality are generally OK. The extras are a collection of Best of British trailers and a two-page leaflet containing a few interesting notes about the film, the writer, director and producer, plus Claude Rains and Fay Wray. The only downside with this otherwise excellent Odeon Entertainment release is the fact that yet again there are no subtitles, therefore denying the deaf/hard of hearing the opportunity to gain full enjoyment from this great 1935 movie.
on 14 November 2011
I've always liked Claude Raines, so I was drawn to this DVD for that initial reason, but I soon found myself absorbed by this unusual, nicely-paced, quirky little tale that mixes humour with drama to produce a refreshingly unusual piece of fiction. The picture quality is a little soft, but very watchable, and the sound is clear and very good considering the age of the film. AS the other reviewers have shown, very well, this is well worth viewing.
on 21 June 2012
A wonderful film; great acting and a great storyline. You can't go wrong with a cast which includes the likes of Claude Rains and Fay Wray.
To be able to pull a trick like that; conning the audience into believing he can tell the future, then to suddenly find he can actually do it! A thrilling tale which can be watched again and again. If its your first time to the oldies, this is a must.
I agree with all the other reviews; much of which I would have written myself but didn't want to bore anyone with repeats. Enjoy the film!
The Clairvoyant is directed by Maurice Elvey and adapted to the screen by Charles Bennett and Bryan Edgar Wallace from the novel written by Ernst Lothar. It stars Claude Rains, Fay Wray and Jane Baxter.
Maximus: King of the Mind Readers.
Out of Gaumont British and Gainsborough Pictures, The Clairvoyant is a compact 80 minute picture that tells of a bogus clairvoyant played by Rains who suddenly finds he does in fact have the gift. However, it's a gift he can only bring out when he is in the presence of a woman named Christine (Baxter), something which greatly unsettles his marriage to Rene (Wray). Film is structured in two wholesome parts, the first finds Maximus and Rene bluffing their way on the entertainment circuit, with Maximus then finding the gift and predicting events that really occur, both good and bad. Then the film greatly shifts in tone to play out as the gift being a curse, Maximus' private life comes under great strain and a turn of events see him come under snarling scrutiny by his peers. The seamless shifts from moody to jovial and back again is a credit to the makers, with Rains turning in a powerful performance in one of the last British films he made before heading to America and the big studio contract.
It will not surprise with the ending, and the running time means that some interesting themes are not fully born out and expanded upon. But it's very well performed across the board and has genuine moments of tension and horror once the jovial atmosphere dissipates. 7/10
on 3 July 2009
Maximus is a low budget trickster who puts on a fake clairvoyant act with his young wife Rene. Act turns to reality when, in the presence of another young lady (Christine), he starts to make startlingly correct predictions. His name becomes famous and he gets richer as he correctly predicts a train wreck and the derby winner. Being around Christine so much causes jealousy to flare in his wife. He only manages to hold on to Rene by promising to stop using his clairvoyance. But then he abruptly predicts a horrific mining accident with 200 deaths. He attempts to warn the miners himself but they reluctantly return to work. When the accident does occur, Maximus finds himself on trial as its cause.