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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Cagliostro" )


directed by Gregory Ratoff, Orson Welles
USA, Italy 1949


A gypsy man discovers that he is a natural hypnotist, and decides to make a fortune off of his ability. When he meets the Viscount who had ordered the execution of his parents and his own whipping and blinding (the latter from which he escaped), he uses his abilities to gain vengeance. Of help to him is a woman who has a startling resemblance to Marie Antoinette. Soon, his lust for power and his love for the woman gain control of him.

You can file this one between SVENGALI and RASPUTIN in the mad hypnotist canon. Like Rasputin, he becomes entangled with the royal family in his pursuit of power, and like SVENGALI, he uses his hypnotism to try to force the woman he loves to love him. With his booming presence and piercing eyes, Orson Welles is ideally cast as the Cagliostro. He is also a character who really existed in history, though the story here takes enormous liberties with the true story; in fact, here Cagliostro is considered responsible for the French revolution. The movie is good but not great; occasionally, some of the acting is awkward and certain scenes feel rushed.

Excerpt of review from Dave Sindelar for Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings located HERE


Theatrical Release: 19 August 1949 (USA)


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DVD Review: Hen's Tooth Video - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Hen's Tooth Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:44:56

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Hen's Tooth Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: November 20, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 12





A prolific producer Edward Small found a niche in adapting public domain novels of Alexandre Dumas for the big screen - the rights were free and they were very popular with the viewers - The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Corsican Brothers (). In 1949 he adapted Duma's novel Joseph Balsamo as Black Magic - filmed in Italy by Gregory Ratoff with some helping hand by the film's star - Orson Welles. It even became a subject of 2006 Oliver Parker film Fade to Black making the original seem like a total waste. It's not all that bad and Orson Welles excels as a 18th century magician and hypnotist Joseph Balsamo also known as Count Cagliostro. It also introduced Welles to his usual co-star Akim Tamiroff. Nancy Guild is good in the dual role of Marie Antoinette and Cagliostro love interest Lorenza, but the film belongs to Orson Welles and he allegedly directed many of his own scenes. Look for cameos by Berry Kroeger and Raymond Burr in the beginning of the film playing Alexandre Dumas, Sr. and Jr. respectively.


Several Edward Small productions were released on DVD by Hen's Tooth Video licensed from Westchester Films - to above mentioned add The Last of Mohicans, Brewster's Millions (1945) and Kit Carson (1940).

The progressive transfer of Black Magic on single-layered disc looks decent, with some marks, scratches and lines, but they are never too distracting and the contrast is always good. The mono audio is decent, with no damage and there are subtitles available for the film - note that voice-over subtitles are in italic. There are no extras, but for everyone seeking to complete their Welles filmography, this is a highly recommended release.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Hen's Tooth Video

Region 1 - NTSC


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