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ORSON WELLES HYPNOTIZES NANCY GUILD WITH 'BLACK MAGIC'

Orson Welles and Nancy Guild starring in BLACK MAGIC Year: 1948 Rating: **1/2

As a hired actor instead of director or producer, Orson Welles — while making money for those projects he developed on his own — was used for his deep, godlike voice, but in BLACK MAGIC... released the same year as THE THIRD MAN which epitomized that sublime vocal delivery... it was his sharp, cold, piercing eyes that were the most exploited...

He's a hypnotist after all: born the son of two 1700's-era gypsies and whose mother could actually foretell the future, he is soon orphaned when they're hanged for wielding so-called demonic powers...  

Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC

Making the rest of BLACK MAGIC — past a frame story involving author Alexandre Dumas, sleeplessly writing about Welles' magician/conman Joseph Balsamo aka Count Cagliostro — a subliminal revenge tale where Welles is the perfect fit for a cunning manipulator: think Harry Lime in a period piece... 

And BLACK MAGIC begins with terrific potential as he's used for genuine future-telling abilities that he works around for random cons, morphing into a PRISONER OF ZENDA-like plot to remove Marie Antoinette...

Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC

Done by using gorgeous doppelganger blonde Nancy Guild (contrasting to brunette moll Valentina Cortese partnered with TOUCH OF EVIL actor Akim Tamiroff) as the story becomes not only convoluted but turns an otherwise entertaining, lavishly designed Victorian-era programmer into an overlong political-mutiny melodrama...

Overall, a performer as built-in hypnotic, severely mesmerizing and downright formidable as Mr. Welles portraying an otherwise mobile charlatan, his BLACK MAGIC remains on a single trick for too long.

Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC with Nancy Guild
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC
Valentina Cortese and Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC
ORSON WELLES in BLACK MAGIC
Valentina Cortese and Akim Tamiroff in BLACK MAGIC with Orson Welles
Valentina Cortese and Akim Tamiroff in BLACK MAGIC
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC with Nancy Guild
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC with Nancy Guild
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC with Nancy Guild
BLACK MAGIC with Nancy Guild
Orson Welles in BLACK MAGIC
Raymond Burr as frame-story Dumas Jr in BLACK MAGIC
Berry Kroeger (and Welles otherwise lookalike) as Dumas Sr in BLACK MAGIC

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