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Black Magic


List Price: $19.95
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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Henstooth Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2012
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009E3EX66
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,531 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Based on a novel by Alexander Dumas, BLACK MAGIC stars Orson Welles as the 18th century master hypnotist and charismatic charlatan, Cagliostro. After his mother is executed for supposedly practicing "witchcraft," young Joseph Balsamo is raised by gypsies. Under their tutelage, he perfects his skills performing magic tricks and selling snake oil in the gypsy's travelling caravan show. Eventually Balsamo meets Franz Mesmer, the famous hypnotist, who convinces Joseph he has even greater gifts which could heal the sick. But Joseph chooses a very different path assuming the name Cagliostro and embarking on a vendetta for power over the man who ordered his mother's death.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
53%
4 star
42%
3 star
5%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 19 customer reviews
Imagine film noire transposed to pre-French-revolution Paris!
Ralph Lockwood
A personal favorite, Black Magic has great production values, a good story, and Welles in a tour-de-force role.
Shari Pfister
It is a Region 1 DVD, as clearly stated in the product details section, and it WILL play on ANY US DVD player.
Chuck Snow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Snow on December 28, 2012
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This review is for the November 2012 Hen's Tooth DVD release of "Black Magic", and it is aimed at those of you who may opt not to purchase this stunningly produced and photographed black & white gem because of misinformation.

First of all, it is NOT a Region 2 DVD. It is a Region 1 DVD, as clearly stated in the product details section, and it WILL play on ANY US DVD player.

If you've never seen this sumptuous 1949 costume movie and you enjoy this genre you absolutely must acquire it. I have not seen this goody on cable - ever, but I remember a local station in my hometown showing it often many years ago. Maybe there have been some copywright complications that have kept this film from circulation all these many decades, but it' a good thing that it is available once again in a beautifully restored print.

The film was shot in Italy using at times real locales. The only drawback for me is that I wish the studio had beefed up the budget and photographed it in Technicolor.

The plot deals with a boy whose mother is cruelly executed. The boy grows up to become Cagliostro, a famous magician and charlatan. Cagliostro then becomes involved in a plot to destroy the man responsible for the mother's death. Unfortunately, things get out of hand. This is the notorious "necklace" episode involving Queen Marie Antoinette that you have probably seen in the more recent Hilary Swank version. Except I think this oldie is a lot more fun, if nothing else for Orson Welles' usually hammy performance matched scene by scene by Mr. Tamiroff, scene stealer supreme. Enough to say that that other wonderful ham, Gregory Ratoff (of All About Eve fame) directed this, so that may explain the acting style that prevails.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott Prazak on March 11, 2012
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When the name Orson Welles is mentioned, the knee-jerk responses are usually Citizen Kane, War Of The Worlds, and the Mercury Theater. Black Magic came out in 1949 and has gone largely unnoticed unfortunately. Based on the book Memoirs of a Physician by Alexandre Dumas, the film focuses on the character Count Cagliostro (Welles), his rise from a gypsy carnival faker to a world renowned hypnotist drunk with power and revenge against the man who killed his parents when he was a child, and his obsession with a beautiful woman whose physical resemblance to Marie Antoinette he uses in his plan for conquest.

The big positives here are Orson of course and the terrific film score by Paul Sawtell. Despite a chilling performance by Welles and good direction from Gregory Ratoff, weak performances from the supporting cast particularly Nancy Guild and Frank Latimore kind of leave this a bit flat in spots. The additional cast is pretty solid. Akim Tamiroff always gives 100%, and Stephen Bekassy plays a real good nasty. I wish there was more of him in this.

Hen's Tooth Video has brought some of the best and hardest to find classics to DVD such as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Corsican Brothers, and Man in the Iron Mask. Finally they caught this gem. The sound quality is very good, and the video (although a little grainy in spots) is very good as well.

No additional features on this DVD; just the feature with a scene index. No complaints from me though. To at last get a region 1 DVD of this is quite the blessing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shari Pfister on May 6, 2013
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This is one of Welles' less-known roles, as Cagliostro, the black magician, undone by love. A personal favorite, Black Magic has great production values, a good story, and Welles in a tour-de-force role. The film makes excellent use of Welles' arresting voice and imposing presence throughout. It's escapist fare and thoroughly enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on February 7, 2015
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To begin, BLACK MAGIC is not a good movie. It is however wildly entertaining with a rare opportunity to see Orson Welles at his thinnest (which makes you realize how tall he really was) and doing his best to emulate Tyrone Power when he was in full swashbuckling mode. The film was shot in Italy in 1949 with a largely Italian crew (which makes for some great looking scenic backdrops) and right after Welles had bombed as a director the year before with LADY FROM SHANGHAI and MACBETH. He was always in demand as an actor and it was during this film that he began his 3 year quest to film OTHELLO by borrowing cameras and other equipment when they weren't being used. Outside of Welles, only Akim Tamiroff would be familiar to audiences today although none of the other major players were top tier in 1949. The film was directed by the Russian born, Stanislavsky trained Gregory Ratoff who is best remembered for his acting performances as the producer in ALL ABOUT EVE the following year and as the old painter in O. HENRY'S FULL HOUSE 3 years later.

The basic elements of the plot are taken from Alexandre Dumas' THE QUEEN'S NECKLACE combined with a highly fictionalized version of the life of Count Caligliostro (1743-1795). Here he is the son of itinerant gypsies who are put to death by a cruel French nobleman. He meets the famous hypnotist Franz Anton Mesmer who helps him discover his power to bend people to his will. He then uses a Marie Antoinette lookalike to get revenge and to try and seize power in France. He is ultimately defeated by a French officer who is in love with the lookalike. Welles knows that the screenplay is rubbish and overacts outrageously and director Ratoff gives him full rein. It's good old-fashioned rip-roaring melodrama and it's incredibly entertaining.
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