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Svengali Details


The George du Maurier novel Trilby, about a hypnotist who controls a female musician, was originally filmed as Trilby, a 1920s silent. In the 1931 talkie, the emphasis shifts from the music student to the teacher, Svengali. John Barrymore gives a scenery-chewing performance as Svengali, who is originally seen tutoring Honori (Carmel Myers). Trilby (Marian Marsh) is making her living as a nude model, but she wants to use her musical talents to earn money and hopes to settle down with Billee (Bramwell Fletcher). Unfortunately, his upper-class family simply wouldn't approve. Svengali falls for Trilby and starts teaching her music while manipulating her hypnotically. Eventually, she becomes so dependent on him that she can't perform outside of his presence. This film became so well-known that the word "Svengali" became incorporated into the English language, meaning "someone who, with evil intent, tries to persuade another to do what is desired." A British version of the film was released in 1955. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anton Grot Best Art Direction 1930 Nominee


John Barrymore
as Svengali
Marian Marsh
as Trilby
Bramwell Fletcher
as Billee
Donald Crisp
as The Laird
Lumsden Hare
as Taffy
Carmel Myers
as Honori
Luis Alberni
as Gecko
Paul Porcasi
as Manager
Ferike Boros
as Marta
Adrienne D'Ambricourt
as Mme. Vinard
Yola D'Avril
as Maid
Ferike Boros
as Marta
Yola D'Avril
as Maid
Adrienne D'Ambricourt
as Mme. Vinard


Archie Mayo
William Holmes
Anton Grot
Production Designer