Tag Archives: Somerset Maugham


magician-by-somerset-maughamTHE MAGICIAN – During Halloween Season a few years back Balladeer’s Blog reviewed the 1926 silent movie adaptation of The Magician. This time around I’ll review the original Somerset Maugham novel from 1908. It’s no secret at this late date that the malevolent sorceror of the title, Oliver Haddo, was based on the real-life Aleister Crowley. In fact, Crowley would accuse Maugham of plagiarism when he reviewed The Magician under the name Oliver Haddo, his fictional counterpart.

At any rate the 1926 film is an under-appreciated classic of the Silent Era and the novel is of an even higher quality. In Paris – where Maugham first met Crowley in real life – Dr Arthur Burdon, a prominent young British surgeon, has come to visit his fiancee, artist Margaret Dauncey.

Burdon also visits his elderly former mentor, Dr Porhoet, who has turned from medicine to the study of Magick and the occult arts. It is through Porhoet that Dr Burdon and Margaret – plus Margaret’s friend Susie Boyd – first encounter the elegant yet repellant Oliver Haddo. The cadre of friends make the mistake of ridiculing the boastful Haddo’s claims of being a sorceror in the young 20th Century. Continue reading


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The MagicianHalloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! 

THE MAGICIAN (1926) – This early MGM movie was adapted from Somerset Maugham’s novel based on the notorious Aleister Crowley. Paul Wegener of The Golem fame portrays Oliver Haddo, the sinister title figure who discovers the secret of creating life through Black Magic. He and his dwarf assistant need to use blood from the hearts of female virgins as one of the ingredients, setting up the expected macabre goings-on.  

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

WHY ISN’T THE MAGICIAN BETTER KNOWN?! This is a magnificent movie that modern audiences would probably embrace more than they do films like The Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu and other classics beloved by me and my fellow silent film geeks. There is virtually no overacting or outrageous melodrama in The Magician, just VERY nicely handled horror and suspense. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season