Mad Love (1935), starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
Mad Love What will obsessed surgeon Dr. Gogol do to be with lovely Yvonne Orlac … When her pianist husband’s hands are crushed? How far will he go…
Synopsis of Mad Love
Mad Love is a rich and oft-imitated bit of madness with a deeply romantic streak. Concert pianist Colin Clive (Frankenstein) has his hands ruined. His actress wife (Frances Drake) turns to the obsessive Dr. Gogol (Lorre). He’s long worshiped her – and wants her. But the doctor replaces the pianist’s hands with those of a murderous circus knife-thrower! Superbly directed by Karl Freund (The Mummy), this eerie film is shaped by Lorre’s subtle, uncannily sympathetic performance.
Review of Mad Love
I’ve known about the movie, Mad Love, for many years. I remember seeing an iconic photo from the movie, of Peter Lorre with strange, crystalline hands. And the image intrigued me, and stuck with me for many years. Recently, I saw Mad Love for the first time, and it was better than I could have hoped for.
Mad Love is the story of a sympathetic monster — a brilliant surgeon, played wonderfully by Peter Lorre. He’s world famous — but unhappy. He obsesses over a beautiful opera singer. He frightens her, due to his creepy behavior. And, she’s about to retire from the stage, meaning he’ll never see her again. Her husband’s a world-famous pianist, and she plans to travel with him. Then, Fate intervenes.
In a train accident, the pianist loses both of his hands! Desperate, the young woman turns to the surgeon. Who transplants the hands of a murderer onto the pianist. But the pianist doesn’t know that — he thinks the surgeon has miraculously healed his hands. And the surgeon, Gogol, begins a plot to drive the husband mad …
It’s an excellent movie, with the main characters all having their own conflicts and motivations, which intertwine. And watching Peter Lorre’s character’s descent into madness is both riveting, and heart-breaking. I highly recommend Mad Love.
In his American feature-film debut, Peter Lorre turns in one of his creepiest performances as a renowned plastic surgeon whose sadistic obsession with an actress drove him over the edge of sanity. Dr. Gogol (Lorre) is in love with his Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake), an actress whose appearance in a Grand Guignol-like horror theater has mesmerized him. She quits the theater to travel with her concert-pianist husband. Stephen (Colin Clive), enraging Gogol.
But when Stephen’s hands are crushed in a train accident, Yvonne turns to Gogol as a last resort. Motivated by sadistic intentions, Gogol secretly replaces Stephen’s hands with those of a guillotined murderer, hoping that the operation will send Yvonne rushing into his arms as the murderer’s hands take on a life of their own. Mad Love is one of the most chilling horror stories every put on screen, lending a macabre twist on themes of requited love and jealously.
Cast of characters
- Peter Lorre (M, Stranger on the Third Floor) … Doctor Gogol
- Frances Drake (Les Miserables (1935)) … Yvonne Orlac
- Colin Clive (Frankenstein 1931) … Stephen Orlac
- Ted Healy (Dancing Lady) … Reagan
- Sara Haden (The Bishop’s Wife, The Great Rupert) … Marie
- Edward Brophy (The Invisible Woman, A Slight Case of Murder) … Rollo
- Henry Kolker (Holiday, The Adventures of Marco Polo) … Prefect Rosset
- Keye Luke (Rodan) … Dr. Wong
- May Beatty … Françoise
- Billy Gilbert (Walt Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) … Autograph Seeker on Train
- Theodore Lorch (Half-Wits Holiday) … Actor at Party
- Ian Wolfe (The Judge Steps Out, Bedlam) … Henry Orlac -, Stephen’s Stepfather