“I happen to be the greatest pianist alive, and I’ll tell you this, Mr. Myles Clarkson: hands like yours are one in a hundred thousand.”
Dying concert pianist Duncan Ely (Curt Jurgens) and his daughter (Barbara Parkins) use satanic powers to transfer Ely’s soul into the body of music journalist Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda). Clarkson’s wife (Jacqueline Bisset) becomes disturbed by her husband’s change of character, and when their daughter Abby (Pamelyn Ferdin) dies suddenly, she begins to suspect witchcraft.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Curt Jurgens Films
- Demonic Possession
- Jacqueline Bisset Films
- Pact With the Devil
Based on a novel by Fred Mustard Stewart, this demonic thriller is regarded by many as simply a second-rate imitation of Rosemary’s Baby (1968); indeed, many elements of the story — as well as director Paul Wendkos’ choice of cinematic devices — echo its famous precursor. On its own terms, Mephisto Waltz remains a visually sumptuous yet not entirely satisfying tale of demonic possession. I enjoyed seeing Alan Alda with an evil glint in his eye, and Curt Jurgens (who makes a brief appearance in the beginning of the film) is perfectly cast as the egotistical pianist intent on maintaining his talent beyond death. Less noteworthy are the performances by the female leads: while Bisset does a decent job as Alda’s jealous wife, we never really care for her, and Parkins is similarly icy and reserved. The best aspect of the film remains the titular musical piece; Franz Liszt’s meaty, dissonant composition may be the best evocation ever of a pact with the devil.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Curt Jurgens as Duncan Ely
- Alan Alda as Myles Clarkson
- A haunting, appropriately satanic score
- The convoluted, yet satisfying, twist ending
No. This one is only must-see viewing for fans of films on witchcraft.