Saturday, December 12, 2009

The gift is a curse when you're 'The Clairvoyant'

The Clairvoyant (aka "The Evil Mind") (1934)
Starring: Claude Rains, Fay Wray and Jane Baxter
Director: Maurice Elvey
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A stage magician specializing in a mind-reading act (Rains) starts having real psychic visions whenever the daughter of a newspaper publisher (Baxter) is near him. Although his newfound true psychic visions initially bring him fame and fortune, the blessings soon turn into miserable curses.

"The Clairvoyant" is a rare British horror film from the 1930s that features an interesting story and a superb cast. It even has a couple of third-act twists that I didn't see coming, and I can't say that very often what with all the movies I've watched.

Although everyone in the film is good, its stars, Claude Rains and Fay Wray, shine especially brightly.

Rains is very likeable and sympathetic as a professional entertainer who struggles with suddenly becoming a real-life psychic and then watches what he thought was a blessing turn into a curse.

As good as Rains is, Wray is even better. This is partly due to her part being well-written, but even more credit should go to the fact that she was a damn fine actress. If you've only seen her in "King Kong", you really need to see this film to see that her talents as an actress went much further than just being very attractive and able to scream better than just about anyone else. is then later torn between ambition and love for his wife.

"The Clairvoyant" is a film I wish they made more like. Despite its fantastic elements, the characters in it and their relationships seem very real, particularly that shared by Rains and Wray's characters. Theirs is a marriage that faces several challenges during the film, but the love they share for one another lets it survive and helps them overcome. It's the sort of relationship that should appear on screen more often.