6.7/10
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15 user 12 critic

The Mind Reader (1933)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 1 April 1933 (USA)
Chandler, a con-man, and his helper Frank decide to create a clairvoyant act for the carny circuit, as a little research reveals Ameicans spent $125 million on mind-readers and astrology. ... See full summary »

Director:

Roy Del Ruth

Writers:

Robert Lord (screen play), Wilson Mizner (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Warren William ... Chandra
Constance Cummings ... Sylvia
Allen Jenkins ... Frank
Natalie Moorhead ... Mrs. Austin
Mayo Methot ... Jenny
Clarence Muse ... Sam
Earle Foxe ... Don
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Storyline

Chandler, a con-man, and his helper Frank decide to create a clairvoyant act for the carny circuit, as a little research reveals Ameicans spent $125 million on mind-readers and astrology. The carny, renamed Chandra, falls for one of his marks, Sylvia, but their love is tested when he brings tragedy to other peoples' lives and she asks him to go straight. Written by Jon C. Hopwood

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 April 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El adivino See more »

Filming Locations:

Danville, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$154,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Stephen Sondheim picked this movie as the initial film on his special night as the Turner Classic Movies programmer, March 22, 2005. The cable network TCM was honoring him on his 75th birthday. The reason for his choice was that the screenplay was by Wilson Mizner. Sondheim had been wanting to write a musical about Wilson and his brother Addison since reading Alva Johnston's biography of them, The Legendary Mizners, in 1953, but he didn't pursue the project fully till 1996. After several revisions under different titles, including WISE GUYS in 1999 and BOUNCE in 2003, the show finally opened off-Broadway in 2008 at the Public Theater in New York, entitled ROAD SHOW. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
F.R. Franklin aka Frank: [to Chandra Chandler as he's being led away to prison to serve a 2-10 year sentence] It sure is tough to be going away just when beer is coming back.
See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Stephen Sondheim (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Let's Put Out the Lights (and Go to Sleep)
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Herman Hupfeld
Played when Mrs. Holman and the detectives burst into the apartment
See more »

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User Reviews

Warren William Showcase
25 September 2014 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

A con-man works his way up the fortune-telling ladder only to find his life is not made better.

The con-man role is tailor made for the commanding Warren William. His Chandra The Fortune Teller is such a masterful stage presence who in the audience would dare challenge his psychic gift. Never mind that his shifty confederate Frank (Jenkins) is feeding him answers telephonically. It makes for a heckuva show, and the rubes keep coming, sometimes ruefully so. Oddly, I found myself being anxious when there's problems with the messaging relay from Frank. That is, do I really want Chandra to succeed in his criminal con job. Yet I couldn't help being torn. Anyway, notice in passing, how the map shows Chandra first touring smaller border state towns, nothing big yet. That will come later, once he hones his act. Cummings (Sylvia) makes an attractive love interest, even if the script presents her flip-flops in a pretty implausible light. Also, the familiar Allen Jenkins plays his part pretty straight, unlike many of his comedic side-kick parts.

Now, you might think, courtesy the screenplay, that every upper-class husband in New York has a silken mistress, leaving a broken-hearted wife behind. Then too, I suspect that dark suspicion played well with Depression era audiences. But once Chandra goes big-time, there are no more rubes, only the sleek and well upholstered. Frankly, I didn't like the big turnaround that comes last. After all, this is pre-Code, so abject mea-culpa endings aren't required as they soon would be. Up to that point, the story really deserves a climax more ironic than the implausibly conventional. (Check out the similar Nightmare Alley {1947} for a more apt ending.)

Anyway, William has to be one of the neglected delights of that long ago period. Passing away in 1948 means he had no post-war credits to speak of. Thus he's largely unknown even to many old movie fans. It's that pre-Code period, before his serial programmers (Perry Mason, the Lone Wolf), where he really shines, usually as an ethically challenged big-wig (Employee's Entrance {1933}; Skyscraper Souls {1932}). And there's no one better. Plus, he's good enough here to make even the flawed, albeit interesting, script well worth watching.


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