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Karl Freund
Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
Writing Credits:
PJ Wolfson, John L. Balderston

In Paris, a demented surgeon's obsession with a British actress leads him to secretly replace her concert pianist husband's mangled hands with those of a guillotined murderer with a gift for knife-throwing.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 68 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 10/19/2021

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Steve Haberman
• Trailer


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Mad Love [Blu-Ray] (1935)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 3, 2021)

After six years of films in his native Europe, Peter Lorre migrated to Hollywood. 1935’s Mad Love represents the eccentric actor’s first American production.

Dr. Gogol (Lorre) enjoys notoriety as a successful cosmetic surgeon. He also enjoys live theater, where he encounters actor Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake).

Gogol quickly develops a romantic obsession with Yvonne, one that remains frustrated because of her marriage to concert pianist Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive). When an accident severely damages Stephen’s hands, Gogol uses the tragedy in a demented way meant to send Yvonne into his arms.

Given his wide-eyed look, diminutive size and slithery voice, Lorre never stood a chance of film stardom as a leading man. Instead, he chose the path that made the most sense for him: slimy characters with questionable morals.

Lorre perfected this sort of character early in his career, and Love offers a good representation of his particular “charms”. While Lorre played a lot of semi-deranged roles, he managed to bring an odd sense of humanity to them.

Lorre leaned toward roles of outsiders. Even though Dr. Gogol stands at the top of his field, he remains isolated and unable to find romance – probably because he’s a bald-headed oddball, but still, this leaves him as a moderately sympathetic character.

In terms of psychotic stalkers, that is. That’s what made Lorre so memorable: he played deeply flawed characters in a way that made them both repellent but still strangely likable.

Gogol comes across as more of a tragic figure than other Lorre roles because Love depicts his good side. After all, Gogol uses his surgical skills for the benefit of others – and doesn’t even accept pay for the lives he impacts.

Of course, Gogol eventually goes nutty, and Lorre makes the shift well. He takes Gogol from eccentric but human to scheming lunatic in a smooth manner that works nicely.

Clive’s presence seems less than coincidental given how many obvious reflections of Frankenstein we find here. Actually, I imagine the producers of Love took some cues from the same year’s Bride of Frankenstein - which also featured Clive – as some similarities appeared.

Perhaps these were coincidental, but Love’s drunk housekeeper (May Beatty) feels awfully reminiscent of Bride’s Minnie (Una O’Connor). Both act in broad ways and exist for comic relief mostly.

Potentially “borrowing” aside, Mad Love becomes a pretty satisfying thriller. It comes with an involving plot and strong performances, all of which allow it to keep us involved across its 68 minutes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Mad Love appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

In general, sharpness satisfied, as the movie usually appeared well-defined. Some softness popped up for the occasional shot, but the majority of the flick boasted fairly nice delineation.

Shimmering and jaggies remained absent, and edge haloes also failed to appear. The movie’s grain structure felt natural, and print flaws failed to mar the proceedings.

Blacks appeared deep and dark, and contrast came across well. Shadows held up nicely. This turned into an image that felt pretty terrific given its age.

For the most part, the sturdy DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Love held up fine over the decades. Speech could seem a bit thin and edgy at times, but lines were intelligible and concise enough.

Music and effects displayed the expected restricted dynamic range, but they showed acceptable clarity and didn’t suffer from much distortion. The mix lacked overt defects as well. This was a more than competent track for a movie from 1935.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an audio commentary from film historian Steve Haberman. He brings a running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and crew, genre domains, production elements and related domains.

A veteran of the form, Haberman offers a solid commentary. He touches on a broad variety of topics to make this a lively and informative discussion.

A creepy tale of romantic obsession, Mad Love holds up well after nearly 90 years. Buoyed by a strong lead performance from Peter Lorre, this becomes a dark, eerie experience. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture with acceptable audio and a few bonus materials. This becomes an engaging thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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