Living dolls used for revenge

Released 10 July 1936, The Devil-Doll was based on Abraham Merritt’s 1932 novel Burn Witch Burn! In 1999, Mr. Merritt was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Parisian banker Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) escapes Devil’s Island with Marcel (Henry B. Walthall, a star since the early silent era). Paul was wrongly accused of robbing his own bank and killing a watchman seventeen years ago, and Marcel is a mad scientist.

When they arrive at Marcel’s home, Marcel and his wife Malita (Rafaela Ottiano, who looks like the Bride of Frankenstein) let him in on the secret of their genius experiments—shrinking animals and people down to one-sixth their size in order to reduce the resource strain on Planet Earth.

Marcel has a little mishap in the lab, and Paul decides to take Malita with him when he returns to Paris to get revenge on the three men who destroyed his life.

Paul and Malita open a toy store as pretended mother and daughter, and Paul begins cross-dressing as an old woman named Madame Madelip. Their toys are an immediate hit, since they come to life and obey commands as if by magic. They’re also greatly helped by a loan from one of the men who betrayed Paul, whom Paul shrinks and uses to further his grand plans.

Another doll, a supposedly ugly servant whom Marcel and Malita turned into a pretty young woman, is given orders to paralyze another of Paul’s enemies and rob his wife of her beautiful jewelry.

Now Paul sets his sights upon getting the third culprit to confess his guilt.

Commingled with Paul’s quest for revenge and clearing his name is a subplot about Paul visiting his elderly mother (Lucy Beaumont) and pretty daughter Lorraine (Maureen O’Sullivan) several times. As badly as he wants to reveal himself to Lorraine, he knows how much Lorraine abhors him and believes he’s guilty. His mother, however, has always stood by his innocence.

Lorraine also is reticent to commit to marrying her beau Toto (Frank Lawton) on account of how people would judge him guilty by association. Even if she’s never done anything wrong or been accused of such, it’s no secret whose daughter she is, and Paul’s guilt is widely believed.

Paul has always made it clear he wants to wash his hands of this whole business of shrinking people and controlling their minds as soon as he accomplishes his goals, but Malita is equally committed to staying the course and continuing the experiments.

Even if Paul can prove his innocence and re-establish a relationship with Lorraine, he’ll still have to figure out a way to extricate himself from his crazed business partner.

The Devil-Doll didn’t earn a lot of money, though it did get some good reviews, including one from The New York Times. The U.S. sci-fi magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories found it disappointing and run-of-the-mill, and felt it “does not attempt to recapture the unique fantasy of Merritt’s novel.”

Today, the film is hailed as a cult classic.

WeWriWa—Application received

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m now in Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Cinni was leaning out of her window in her attic bedroom when she caught Urma Smart, one of the new longterm houseguests, on the front veranda with the father of Cinni’s frenemy Adeline. Just as Cinni suspected, Mr. Myers really is in the Klan, and Urma wants to join too.

After much begging, Mr. Myers gave Urma an application for the women’s auxiliary. As promised, she fills it out in record time.

This comes a bit after last week’s snippet.

Urma marched back out with the completed application, and Cinni leaned through the window again.

“There you go. I’ll attend every single meeting, pay all my dues on time, and keep my uniform ironed and starched. Maybe you’ll reconsider your stance on admitting women by the time my daughter’s old enough to join.”

“I’ll look over this application and take it to the proper authorities. But remember, we don’t let just anyone join, even if it’s only the women’s auxiliary. You have to prove you have pure white ancestry, and if we find any inferior races lurking about in your family tree after your initial approval, you’ll be disqualified immediately.”

Cinni made a rude gesture at Mr. Myers as he walked off.

WeWriWa—Application requested

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge_4

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m now in Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Cinni was leaning out of her window in her attic bedroom when she caught Urma Smart, one of the new longterm houseguests, on the front veranda with the father of Cinni’s frenemy Adeline. Just as Cinni suspected, Mr. Myers really is in the Klan, and Urma is begging for membership.

Urma, who freely discriminates against many kinds of people, was outraged to be told the Klan doesn’t admit women to the main organization, and to hear Mr. Myers making several quite sexist comments about women in general and her in particular.

Urma growled. “Give me the application for the women’s group, and I’ll have it completed immediately. You should be thankful anyone wants to join, since Klan membership has dwindled so much since the glory days.”

Cinni turned to Sparky after Urma trotted inside. “I knew it!” she whispered. “I knew Addie’s dad was in the Klan! Everyone knows it, even if he ain’t done nothing to publicly give it away. You know what, I’m going to give her hell about this at school on Monday. Maybe then she’ll finally crack and admit what everyone has known almost since they moved to town.”

WeWriWa—Urma’s true colors

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge_4

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m now in Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Cinni was leaning out of her window in her attic bedroom when she caught Urma Smart, one of the new longterm houseguests, on the front veranda with the father of Cinni’s frenemy Adeline. Just as Cinni suspected, Mr. Myers really is in the Klan, and Urma is begging for membership.

The word “can’t” shows up in all caps because the blog theme I’m currently using turns all bold italics into caps.

“Listen, lady, I have no doubts your white supremacy is for real. But you can’t join. This group is only for men, and you’re clearly not a man. Now I have important business to conduct, and can’t waste the entire day talking with a biddy. Maybe your husband wants to join?”

Urma grimaced. “My husband is going to burn in Hell at the end of his days if he doesn’t get right with God. Ever since I became a fundamentalist a few years ago, he’s refused to join me and our daughter in the one true interpretation of Christianity. I have to put up with his sass since I love him, and he’s the father of my only child.”

The nine lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“So you invited me here, full well knowing your husband would never join the Klan, and leading me to believe I could sign up a new recruit? I never would’ve wasted my time had I known only a fool woman wanted to join.”

“This is discrimination! Christ taught women as well as men, and now you’re saying I can’t join a great group simply because I’m not a man?”

“We have a women’s auxiliary, if you’re interested, but at the present time, we don’t admit women to the main organization. This is an old boys’ club, not a knitting circle for a bunch of cackling hens.”

WeWriWa—Eavesdropping on Urma

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m skipping ahead quite a bit, to the beginning of Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Houseguests Urma and Samantha Smart have made no secret of their holier than thou fundamentalist views since they arrived at the start of March, though Urma’s husband Mortez has been nothing but kind and respectful. Sam has also angered Cinni’s aunt Lucinda by using her sewing room as a bedroom.

A few days after Pesach ended, Cinni was leaning out her window for fresh air when she caught sight of Urma standing on the front veranda with Adeline’s father Frank. Given the strong rumors about Mr. Myers’s Klan membership, and given Urma’s undisguised fire and brimstone attitudes, there was little doubt in Cinni’s mind as to what they were doing together.

“Come take a look at this, Spark. Can you hear anything they’re saying?”

“What if they see us trying to eavesdrop! We’d be in lots of trouble!”

“Ain’t no crime to eavesdrop or spy on neighbors. I do it all the time, and I love blackmailing Violet to keep her in her place. John likes to spy on neighbors too and use what blackmail he can find. Of course, he’s never caught me in a bad situation, since I’m perfect.”

The ten lines end here. A few more to finish the scene follow.

Cinni leaned out the window as far as she could and strained her ears to pick up what Urma and Mr. Myers were saying. Sparky leaned out a little bit, but not as far.

“I want to join the KKK! It’s my right!”