What is Mad Love?
Mad Love is a 1935 horror film directed by Karl Frend and starring Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, and Frances Drake. The film is an adaptation of Maurice Renard’s story The Hands of Orlac, which was previously adapted as a silent film starring Conrad Veidt called The Hands of Orlac.
Karl Fruend, a German cinematographer, was notable mainly for his technical achievements during the German Expressionism movement of the twenties. He also directed the Universal horror classic The Mummy. His influence is a very important part of the appeal of Mad Love. His sense of composition (a term referring to the arrangement of the scene on film) is very interesting and unique – reflecting the Expressionist or Symbolist aesthetic.
The film is also notable for the performance of Peter Lorre. This was one of his first Hollywood films and this performance is very exciting and compelling. A somewhat underrated actor who was confined mainly to playing menacing foreigners, Lorre imbues Dr Gogol with both legitimate menace and also legitimate pathos.
Admirable performances by Ted Healy, Colin Clive, and Frances Drake add some nice color to the proceedings. The film really shines as a heavily stylish art object. From the scenes in the beginning set in the Grand Guignol theatre, to Dr Gogol’s intensely weird and Expressionistic apartment, the sets and character of the film are distinct and interesting.
Mad Love is one of the twenty-two films I wrote about in our eBook. If you’d like to hear about Mad Love, consider picking it up on Amazon.
Where to Watch It
You can rent Mad Love on demand on the Google play store. If you would like to own it Hollywood’s Legends of Horror Collection (Doctor X / The Return of Doctor X / Mad Love / The Devil Doll / Mark of the Vampire / The Mask of Fu Manchu), available on Amazon is a pretty good buy ($26.99 for 6 movies at the time of this writing, two of which are excellent).