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The Raven (1935)

Approved | | Crime, Horror | 8 July 1935 (USA)
A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director:

Lew Landers (as Louis Friedlander)

Writers:

Edgar Allan Poe (poem), David Boehm (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Edmond Bateman (as Karloff)
Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Richard Vollin
Lester Matthews ... Dr. Jerry Halden (Credits) / Dr. Jerry Holden
Irene Ware ... Jean Thatcher
Samuel S. Hinds ... Judge Thatcher
Spencer Charters ... Geoffrey (Credits) / Col. Bertram Grant
Inez Courtney ... Mary Burns
Ian Wolfe ... Col. Bertram Grant (Credits) / Geoffrey 'Pinky'
Maidel Turner ... Harriet
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Anne Darling ... Autograph Hound (scenes deleted)
June Gittelson ... Autograph Hound (scenes deleted)
Joe Haworth Joe Haworth ... Drug Clerk (scenes deleted)
Mary Wallace Mary Wallace ... Autograph Hound (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

A wealthy judge coaxes the brilliant but eccentric neurological surgeon Dr. Vollin (Lugosi), who also has an obsessive penchant for Edgar Allen Poe, out of retirement to save the life of his daughter, a dancer crippled and brain damaged in an auto wreck. Vollin restores her completely, but also envisions her as his "Lenore," and cooks up a scheme to kidnap the woman and torture and kill her fiance' and father in his Poe-inspired dungeon. To do his dirty work, Vollin recruits a wanted criminal (Karloff), and turns him into a hideous monster to guarantee his subservience. Written by Kevin Rayburn <kprayb01@homer.Louisville.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

While this mad surgical genius chanted "The Raven," horrible screams rose up from his torture chamber below! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 July 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Rabe See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$115,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shooting lasted from Mar. 20-Apr. 5, 1935, released July 4 in NYC, with Bela Lugosi in attendance, due to sail to England to begin Phantom Ship (1935). See more »

Goofs

When Bateman shoots at the mirrors, there is an obvious time lag before each one breaks. See more »

Quotes

Judge Thatcher: I'll pay you any amount of money, Dr. Vollin,
Dr. Richard Vollin: Money means nothing to me.
Judge Thatcher: But someone is dying! Your obligation as a member of the medical profession...
Dr. Richard Vollin: I respect no such obligation. I am a law unto myself!
Judge Thatcher: But you have no human feeling? My daughter is dying!
Dr. Richard Vollin: Death hasn't the same significance for me as it has for you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the very end of the film, The credits read: "A Good Cast Is Worth Repeating" (credits for the cast are also at the beginning of the film) See more »


Soundtracks

Romeo and Juliet Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Arrangements by Heinz Roemheld
Played as background music at the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Boris and Bela At Their Best; Nothing More Is Needed!
15 July 2004 | by Doghouse-6See all my reviews

This is the Boris & Bela show all the way. Like its sort-of companion piece "The Black Cat," THE RAVEN involves young lovers held captive by a madman with an odd hobby, in a large house which is elaborately tricked-out with amenities not usually found in even the most exclusive residences. This time out, Boris is the nominal "hero" (as with "The Black Cat," the male half of the young couple proves remarkably useless) and Bela the nut-case: Richard Vollin; doctor, Poe aficionado and do-it-yourself-er without peer. Summoned from retirement to perform life-saving surgery on Jean Thatcher, a lovely young dancer, he subsequently falls head-over-heels for her, and the trouble starts.

Lugosi was a better actor than he usually gets credit for being; his downfall seemed to stem from a lack of selectivity about what projects he accepted, frequently landing him in dreck. THE RAVEN gives him ample opportunities to shine, and he makes the most of them. Some consider his work here over-the-top, but scenery-chewing is entirely appropriate to the character, who is written as an arrogant egomaniac - he refers to himself as "a law unto myself" and even "a god" - and probably the only out-and-out lunatic Lugosi ever played. The desires or welfare of others simply don't enter into the equation for Vollin. After repeated refusals to perform Jean's operation, only an appeal to his ego ("So, they DO say I am the only one!") can induce him; that the object of his affection makes no secret of her love for someone else is of no consequence to him, and for the one "nice" deed he does for someone else - making Jean's fiancé his research assistant - he flatters himself that he's being magnanimous, though his true motivation, keeping the young rival too busy to interfere with his pursuit of Jean, is nonetheless self-serving.

The gloriously unrestrained nature of his performance notwithstanding, he gives us some of his best moments here: when he finds himself in Karloff's clutches, totally helpless and at Boris' mercy, the panic beneath his thin veneer of casual bravado is palpable. Likewise the barely-controlled fury and pain when, ostensibly speaking about Poe, he tells of the madness that grips "a man of genius denied of his great love," and how that madness can drive him to conceive of "torture....torture for those who have tortured him." His perverse glee in inflicting that torture is chilling, and he even displays some unexpectedly dry wit. When Vollin demands of Jean's father, Judge Thatcher, "There are no two ways; send her to me," the Judge gasps an incredulous "Do you know what you're saying?" Lugosi, in a deliberate monotone, answers the question literally; repeating, "There - are - no - two - ways - send - her - to - me!"

If I've put the emphasis here on Lugosi, it's because he truly dominates all around him, including Karloff. That's no reflection on Boris; he just plays a mostly passive character: Edmond Bateman, bank robber and escaped con, who seeks Vollin out for an operation to make him "look different." Given the shady-looking hood who passes Vollin's name and address to Bateman, and the seedy surroundings in which the meeting takes place, one can't help but wonder at Vollin's social contacts, and the kind of services he's previously solicited (or performed). The unfortunate Bateman soon finds himself in over his head, the victim of Vollin's particularly sadistic blackmail.

As with Frankenstein's creation, Boris suffuses Bateman with pathos. "I don't want to do them things no more," he pleads, when Lugosi sets out to enlist his help for some dastardly deeds. Because of his predicament, we can feel sympathy for Bateman, even as he does more of "them things" at Vollin's behest. Under heavy and restricting makeup, as was often the case, Boris is able to communicate a great deal with his eyes (or, in this case, eye). Watch the excitement in them (it?) as Lugosi removes the post-op bandages; your heart fairly breaks because you know the shock that's in store for him.

The supporting cast is filled out with familiar and capable players such as Inez Courtney and Ian Wolfe (who has one of the film's best lines when, as Bela goes on his torture rampage, protests with an oh-so-civilized, "See here, Vollin, things like this can't be done!").

The ever-dependable and versatile Samuel S. Hinds provides us with one of his delightfully stodgy curmudgeons as Judge Thatcher, and he deserves a special nod on general principle. Hinds was one of those "oh, I've seen him a hundred times before" actors (whose face is probably known by far more people than his name) who, during the '30's and '40's, seemed to pop up in every third film released. His persona varied little (and he seemed doomed to rarely being cast as anything besides judge, doctor or lawyer), but he was able to bend it in whatever direction a role required, enabling him to move with ease from the tight-ass Thatcher to Slade, the corrupt, tobacco-spittin' judge in "Destry Rides Again," to the sage and kindly family physician in "The Boy With Green Hair." Too bad he never did a "Huck Finn;" he'd have been great as The King.

Despite the improbability (oh, all right; absurdity) of the plot, the script provides some wonderful dialogue. Hinds has the great good fortune of uttering the catchy phrase, "stark-staring mad" on more than one occasion. But the delivery of even the pithiest exchanges, such as "'You monster, you like to torture.' 'Yes, I like to torture.'" gives them a vitality far beyond what is on the page. When all is said and done, though, THE RAVEN is, above all, B & B's show. Each is at the top of his game, and together, they own it.


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