The Climax


1h 26m 1944

Brief Synopsis

Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer's fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film's climax.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 20, 1944
Premiere Information
World premieres in Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA: 11 Oct 1944
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Climax by Edward Locke (London, 5 Mar 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,016ft

Synopsis

Ten years after strangling to death his sweetheart, opera singer Marcellina, because she would not give up her career for him, Dr. Frederick Hohner, the resident physician for the Royal Theater, overhears music student Angela Klatt singing a selection from The Magic Voice , the opera that Marcellina was starring in at the time of her death. While Frederick is incensed that Angela is performing music that he feels is "sacred," Count Seebruck, the theater's impresario, is impressed by the young woman's voice and offers her a part in the Royal Theater's next production. Angela is such a great success on opening night that Count Seebruck plans to revive The Magic Voice for her. Hearing this, Frederick lures Angela to his home, under the pretext of a required post-performance throat examination, and hypnotizes the young woman. Under the mad physician's spell, Angela is no longer able to sing, and Frederick gives her an atomizer to carry at all times to remind her of this hypnotic command. Count Seebruck then holds a press conference to announce his plans for Angela and The Magic Voice , but when the young woman attempts to sing an aria, her voice fails her and she rushes off stage in tears. Backstage, Frederick announces that Angela is suffering from nervous tension and suggests that the singer be placed under his care. With work on The Magic Voice in progress, Count Seebruck decides to replace Angela with Jarmila Vadek, the company's less talented prima donna, much to the chagrin of Franz Munzer, Angela's fiancé. While Frederick is at the theater, Franz sneaks into the physician's home and whisks the now-bedridden Angela to safety. Upon the suggestion of his uncle, Carl Bauman, Franz goes to Count Seebruck and requests that Angela be given the chance to perform The Magic Voice before a full company and audience so that she may regain her voice and confidence. When the impresario refuses, Franz and Carl meet with the country's boy-king, who then orders a command performance by Angela. Arriving at the theater on opening night, Angela learns of the king's command, and she seemingly regains her voice when Franz accidentally breaks the atomizer that Frederick has placed in her dressing room. Realizing that his power over Angela is waning, Frederick abducts the young singer and returns her to his home, where he prepares to slit her vocal cords. She is rescued, however, by Franz, Carl and Luise, Frederick's housekeeper. While Frederick is held at gunpoint by Carl, Angela and Franz rush back to the theater just in time for the singer's stage entrance. Though she is hesitant at first, Angela regains her voice and confidence and begins to perform The Magic Voice . Meanwhile, at the physician's home, Frederick knocks Carl unconscious, but the police arrive before he can make his escape. Frederick then rushes upstairs to a hidden room, which he has made into a shrine around Marcellina's embalmed body, and is killed when he accidentally sets the room afire. Back at the theater, Angela successfully concludes her performance, and, amidst thunderous applause, is joined onstage by Franz.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 20, 1944
Premiere Information
World premieres in Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA: 11 Oct 1944
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Climax by Edward Locke (London, 5 Mar 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,016ft

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1944

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter news items, The Climax was originally intended to be a sequel to Universal's highly successful 1943 release Phantom of the Opera , which featured actors Claude Rains, Susanna Foster and Nelson Eddy, director Arthur Lubin and producer George Waggner. In October 1943, Eddy was replaced in the cast of The Climax by Turhan Bey, and producer Waggner was unable to acquire Rains for the role of "Dr. Frederick Hohner," so Boris Karloff was cast instead, according to Hollywood Reporter. Due to last minute scheduling changes, Lubin then became unavailable, so Waggner assumed both producing and directing duties on the picture. Hollywood Reporter news items include Grace Cunard, Maurice Costello, William Desmond, Stuart Holmes, Eddie Polo, Anne Cornwall, Jack Richardson, Harry Mayo, Gertrude Astor, Helen Gibson, Fred Curtis, Homer Dickinson and Barry Regan in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Art directors John B. Goodman and Alexander Golitzen, along with set decorators Russell A. Gausman and Ira S. Webb, received Academy Award nominations for their interior decoration of The Climax, but lost to Wiard Ihnen and Thomas Little's work on Twentieth Century-Fox's Wilson . Modern sources credit John P. Fulton with special effects. Modern sources also state that Waggner and composer Edward Ward based their musical compositions on themes by Chopin and Schubert. Universal had previously filmed the Edward Locke play under the same title in 1930, starring Jean Hersholt and Kathryn Crawford, directed by Renaud Hoffman (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0921).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 20, 1944

Released in United States on Video August 6, 1996

Released in United States on Video August 6, 1996

Released in United States Fall October 20, 1944