Price, an up and coming magician, in his own mind at least, never had a show of his own but worked for many other magicians creating their tricks and illusions. Halfway through his first performance he gets shut down with an injunction as the company he worked for owns all the patents to produce said tricks. With really no option, he goes back to work for the company that stopped him, and in a moment of anger he kills his boss who took everything away from him, including marrying his ex-wife. Things go from bad to worse as he tries to cover up the murder, and commits a couple more along the way, all the while trying to jumpstart his career. Not a good way to start.
Vincent Price, as always, is excellent as Gallico the Great, the wannabe magician who just cannot seem to make it, no matter what he does. Whether he plays a killer or a gentleman, Price always seems to tower above anyone else in the cast. Perhaps it is the intonation of his voice, or the class that he brings to the set but Price can really seem to do no wrong no matter the role. His best roles are those when he plays the villain of course, always ominous and always menacing. Even at his nicest he is disarming but smooth at the same time, charming his friends and victims alike until they find out too late just what he really is.
Eva Gabor is ravishing in a minor role as the ex-wife who is a gold-digger through and through. When she finds out her husband has been murdered she shows no empathy whatsoever and agrees to go back to Price, with fatal results. Mary Murphy is gorgeous as well playing the possible new love interest, but when she starts to find out what really happened she has no qualms about trying to take Gallico down.
A great little horror film from Columbia Pictures with nary a monster in sight except for the master of the macabre himself, Vincent Price. He usually makes any film he is in and The Mad Magician is no exception. Fun, entertaining and a nice little movie for a Sunday morning – or really, anytime you need a good film to watch.
5 out of 5