The Mephisto Waltz
Posted by martinteller on September 5, 2012
Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda) is a failed pianist turned music journalist. He goes to interview the famed musician Duncan Ely (Curd Jürgens) and is soon seduced by the virtuoso’s flattery and drawn into the glamorous life Ely shares with his sensual (and overly “friendly”) daughter Roxanne (Barbara Parkins). Myles’s wife Paula (Jacqueline Bisset) smells something funny, especially after Ely kicks the bucket and Myles mysteriously undergoes drastic changes.
This is a huge ripoff of Rosemary’s Baby in most respects, but as far as occult thrillers go, it’s not that bad. I chose to watch this because I’m so enamored with The Burglar that I wanted to see more by director Paul Wendkos. He applies a similar sense of stylistic overload here, reveling in the trappings of the genre like first-person camera and vaseline-smeared lenses (and wholly gratuitous nudity). They’re not genre trappings that I enjoy as much as noir trappings, but I appreciate his commitment to the cheesy style.
Among the performances, I suppose Alda fares best with something like a dual role, although he’s not especially memorable in either side of part. Jürgens is agreeably cornball, and Bisset does all right. Goldsmith’s score is quite well done. Except for the somewhat unexpected ending, the story for the most part is rather predictable, but it satisfies as lurid, campy entertainment with some sleazy angles. Okay, so the film is a huge ripoff and it isn’t going out of its way to break any ground. It’s still kinda fun to watch for a quick Satanism fix. Rating: Good (72)