Svengali (1931 film)

1931 film by Archie Mayo

Svengali is a 1931 film about a music maestro who controls the singing voice of the woman he loves.

Directed by Archie Mayo. Written by J. Grubb Alexander, based on the novel by George du Maurier.
All Paris desired her, but Svengali owned her!  (taglines)


  • That might be as well to remember. There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
  • [to Trilby] There is nothing in your mind... nothing in your heart... nothing in your soul... but Svengali... Svengali... Svengali... !
  • [as he is on the verge of death] Oh, God, grant me in death... what you denied me in life... the woman I love.


Gecko: Maestro, I don't know what we are going to do. We have borrowed from everyone we know. We cannot go back to Bernard's. He will throw us out.
Svengali: Oh, possibly, possibly... But there are other people... Our English friends - - they have not enjoyed the fragrance of our society, for a week. We will go there.
Gecko: But Maestro, the last time we were there, Monsieur Taffy, and Monsieur the Laird, and even little Billie... he's so kind.
Svengali: Now listen. Gecko. You know, the trouble with you is you have not sufficient optimism. Little things discourage you. Remember, in the bright lexicon of youth, there is no such word... as "Fail."

Monsieur Taffy: Maestro Svengali... this has been a marvelous change since we saw him last.
The Laird: Yeah, it's been just five years.
Monsieur Taffy: Wonderful!
Billee: They say that his wife is a very beautiful woman.
Monsieur Taffy: Didn't you say that she was a Polish woman that he picked up in Russia?
The Laird: Yeah, that's what I heard.
Billee: Well, if she's as beautiful as they say she is, he must've hypnotized her into marrying him.
The Laird: I'm not interested in that. What I want to know is who's giving him his baths now?
Monsieur Taffy: Probably she is - in self defense!
[they all laugh]

Trilby O'Farrell: [after Svengali has hypnotized her, making her headache disappear] What'd he do?
Monsieur Taffy: He hypnotized you!
The Laird: Yeah, and don't you ever let him do it again! Those fella's can make you do anything and say anything they want. Lie, steal, *anything*!
Billee: And then they make you kill yourself when they're done with ya'.
The Laird: Yeah, they do that.
Trilby O'Farrell: But he took my pain away!
Billee: I'd rather have the pain than have it cured like that!

Trilby O'Farrell: Svengali, I've tried, but I...
Svengali: Ja, ja, ja, ja. But you know very well why you can't. It is the magnificent young Englander. The head of the Purity Brigade. Sir Galahad. This stiff-necked little Billie... What is he, Liebchen? With his silly paints in one hand, and these twiddling brushes of pig's bristles in the other... What does he amount to, compared to Svengali? Ah, he paints his silly pictures and sends them to London, where they hang up on the wall like... dead soldiers on parade. And the people pass in a long procession - "ah" - and yawn. Svengali will go to London himself! Where he will be all alone on a platform. And Princesses. And Countesses. And serene Highnesses will fling him their jewels, and applaud, and invite him to their palaces. And he will take you with him. I never look at them. Ah, we could be so happy.
Trilby O'Farrell: But I... I don't like palaces.
Svengali: No. Nor anything else that other women like. Except the little Bi--. Look at me .. in the eyes!
[He hypnotizes Trilby and she closes her eyes]
Svengali: Open your eyes.
Trilby O'Farrell: Oh, I do love you!
Svengali: Close your eyes.
Trilby O'Farrell: I love...
Svengali: Ah, don't say it! You are beautiful, my manufactured love. But it is only Svengali talking to himself again.

Billee: You're wonderful. You're the sweetest thing I've ever known. When we're married, I want to take you to England, and to my mother... She'll be proud of you, Trilby. Proud of you as I am.
Trilby O'Farrell: Tell me: what's England like?
Billee: Oh, England's beautiful! Green fields, and hedgerows and hollyhocks, primroses...
Svengali: [eavesdropping] ... and fog, and pneumonia, and shopkeepers, and flat feet, and boiled beef and cabbage - ha, ha, ha! Trilby in England would be like a butterfly in mutton soup! [continues to laugh]

Svengali: Now... what did we do last?
Madame Honori: Don't you remember?
Svengali: I am speaking about music.

Monsieur Taffy: And where are you going?
Billee: After him!
Monsieur Taffy: Svengali's not running away from you.
Billee: Not from me, Taffy, but from his fear of the day when his spell over Trilby will be broken, as it was for a moment last night.
The Laird: Eh? And what will you do when you catch up with him?
Billee: Just wait till the day comes. I'll get her back - - if I have to follow them 'round the world.


  • He hypnotizes! He thrills...! Any woman caught in his spell must obey.
  • All Paris desired her, but Svengali owned her!
  • Weirdest romance ever pictured! With the screen's genius and his new find


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