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The Mad Magician (1954)

Not Rated | | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 19 May 1954 (USA)
2:09 | Trailer

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Don Gallico is a master at designing magical illusions which are sold by his employer, Mr. Ormond, to famous magicians such as Rinaldi. He is also a master of disguise and realistic mask ... See full summary »


John Brahm


Crane Wilbur (story), Crane Wilbur (screenplay)



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Complete credited cast:
Vincent Price ... Don Gallico / Gallico the Great
Mary Murphy ... Karen Lee
Eva Gabor ... Claire Ormond
John Emery ... The Great Rinaldi
Donald Randolph Donald Randolph ... Ross Ormond
Lenita Lane ... Alice Prentiss
Patrick O'Neal ... Lt. Alan Bruce
Jay Novello ... Frank Prentiss


Don Gallico is a master at designing magical illusions which are sold by his employer, Mr. Ormond, to famous magicians such as Rinaldi. He is also a master of disguise and realistic mask design. When Don embarks upon his own career as Gallico the Great, showcasing his own masterful illusions, his dreams are shattered by Ormond and he turns to murder to vent his frustrations. Written by Jeff Hole <jeffhole@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


3D THRILL! Fuel for the human bonfire! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 May 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Máscara do Mágico See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The music playing in the restaurant when Gallico catches up with Karen attempting to get his carrying bag she accidentally picked up is a string version of the classic song Santa Lucia, probably made most popular by a recording by legendary tenor Enrico Caruso. See more »


The magic tricks on the shelf, in the studio, change in different shots. See more »


Karen Lee: What was in that bag, Don?
Don Gallico: Do you really want to know, Karen? It was a head. A human head.
Karen Lee: Oh, you're just making fun of me.
Don Gallico: Not at all. It was your head, Karen. The dummy head I made for the buzzsaw trick. Do you remember how its eyes rolled and the mouth opened in a scream when the teeth of the saw ripped into its flesh? That was the most lifelike thing I ever made. Do you think I'm going to let Rinaldi take that away from me too? Oh no, my dear. They'll never find that lovely head of yours.
See more »


Referenced in Vincent Price: The Sinister Image (1987) See more »


Sobre las Olas
Music by Juventino Rosas
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User Reviews

THE MAD MAGICIAN (John Brahm, 1954) ***
23 January 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Vincent Price's follow-up to HOUSE OF WAX (1953), the film which cemented his reputation as a horror icon, similarly revolves around a bitter – albeit resourceful – showman. Though a remake, the former (shot in Technicolor) remains the superior effort; that said, apart from some resistible comic relief, the obligatory resort to cheap gimmickry (it was another 3-D showcase) and occasional narrative shortcomings (whatever happened to the missing bag which supposedly turned up at some police station containing a severed head?), this offers more than enough Grand Guignol-type thrills and overall camp value (Price hamming it up in a variety of disguises as an inventor of illusions impersonating 'missing' star conjurers who had taken advantage of his genius) to stand on its own two feet. Incidentally, director Brahm's involvement here proves no mere coincidence – since the narrative incorporates elements from two horror titles (both starring Laird Cregar) he had previously helmed i.e. THE LODGER (1944) and HANGOVER SQUARE (1945). The young leads are played by Mary Murphy (as Price's ingénue assistant) and Patrick O'Neal (as her police detective boyfriend – curiously enough, he would himself take the lead in a similar piece, CHAMBER OF HORRORS [1966], which I have acquired just in time to serve as an encore to this one). An interesting sideline here is the latter's adoption of a novel detection technique, fingerprinting, which is crucial in bringing about Price's downfall (in a predictable but rather awkward fiery climax)…though the persistent snooping of his amateur crime novelist landlady has at least as much to do with it in the long run! Watching the star in a made-to-measure role, the film emerges a good deal of fun – particularly at a compact 73 minutes.

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