Mad Magician, The (1954)

The Mad Magician (1954), directed by John Brahm.

The craftsman who invents new stage magic tricks wants to perform them himself, but his conniving employer and another magician won't allow it. Murder is the solution, but getting away with it is a lot of work. One thing leads to another, of course.

A favorite bit: an arrogant magician struts around the room, dictating terms, while Vincent Price coolly watches, unconcerned. The door to the workroom is locked and the visitor is a fool dancing on the edge of the grave.

A quick followup to House of Wax (1953): 3D again, Price returns, same writer and cinematographer, and the artist in his workshop looks very similar in both films:

Saving money by going black-and-white. Only 72 minutes long.

John Brahm directs this time and he recycles elements from his earlier films: the mysterious, dangerous tenant from The Lodger (1944) and disposing of a body on a giant bonfire as in Hangover Square (1945).

Brahm did not think much of the picture and it is the lightest of his thriller series.

Price appears very fit, still with those leading man looks, and said he had never been in such good shape. Mad murderer that he is, we are on his side, all his victims being so unlikable.

Patrick O'Neal's first feature film; he'd done TV and theater before. With Eva Gabor, who is quite a dish.

We have a few gimmicky 3D exploitation moments, but otherwise the composition in depth is nicely done.

Available in 3D Blu-ray from Twilight Time. Even for 2D viewing this is probably the first time the correct aspect ratio has been available for home viewers.

Extras include an enthusiastic commentary track by two Twilight Time regulars, one who knew Price for many years and always has great stories about him. Also with two Three Stooges shorts in 3D.