Black Magic (1949 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Black Magic (also known as Cagliostro) is a 1949 film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas, père's novel. It was directed by the Russian-born Gregory Ratoff and stars Orson Welles in the lead role as Joseph Balsamo (aka 18th century hypnotist, magician and scam artist Count Cagliostro) and Nancy Guild as Lorenza/Marie Antoinette. Akim Tamiroff has a featured role.


Alexander Dumas, Sr. (Berry Kroeger) tells his son Alexander Dumas, Jr. (Raymond Burr) the story of Joseph Balsamo (Orson Welles). Through flashbacks we learn that Balsamo was a French gypsy boy who endured much hardship. He was tortured under the command of Viscount de Montagne (Stephen Bekassy) and his parents were ordered to hang. Some years later, he learns the secrets of hypnosis from Dr. Mesmer (Charles Goldner). Ignoring the doctor's advice that he use his powers for healing, he exploits his new talent to the full; gaining wealth, fame and prestige. After changing his name to Count Cagliostro, he becomes famous all over Europe. Things begin to go downhill when he enters a plot to substitute a young girl called Lorenza (Nancy Guild) for the French queen Marie Antoinette along with gypsies Gilbert (Akim Tamiroff) and Zoraida (Valentina Cortese).


  • Orson Welles as Joseph Balsamo aka Count Cagliostro
  • Nancy Guild as Marie Antoinette / Lorenza
  • Akim Tamiroff as Gitano
  • Frank Latimore as Gilbert de Rezel
  • Valentina Cortese as Zoraida
  • Margot Grahame as Mme. du Barry
  • Stephen Bekassy as Viscount de Montagne
  • Berry Kroeger as Alexandre Dumas, Sr.
  • Gregory Gaye as Chambord / Monk
  • Raymond Burr as Alexandre Dumas, Jr.
  • Charles Goldner as Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer
  • Lee Kresel as King Louis XVI / Innkeeper
  • Robert Atkins as King Louis XV
  • Nicholas Bruce as De Remy
  • Franco Corsaro as Chico
  • Annielo Mele as Joseph Balsamo, as a child
  • Ronald Adam as Court President
  • Bruce Belfrage as Crown Prosecutor
  • Alexander Danaroff as Dr. Duval / Baron von Minden
  • Leonardo Scavino as Gaston / Beniamino Balsamo
  • Tamara Shayne as Maria Balsamo
  • Joop van Hulzen as Minister of Justice
  • Peter Trent as Dr. Mesmer's Friend
  • Giuseppe Varni as Boehmer
  • Tatyana Pavlova as The mother


Producer Edward Small went through a number of directors and stars in trying to get this film off the ground. In late 1943 Charles Boyer was to star with Akim Tamiroff, and Irving Pichel directing, then in early 1944 J. Carroll Naish was reported to play Alexandre Dumas, Sr. Later that year, George Sanders was announced as the star with Douglas Sirk directing. In 1947, Small was to make the film in Mexico, but dropped those plans when it turned out to be more expensive to shoot there than he expected – so the location of shooting was changed to Italy. Small borrowed Gregory Ratoff and Nancy Guild from Twentieth Century-Fox and took over the Scalera studios in Rome from early October 1947 to late January 1948.

Orson Welles directed several scenes in the film, which was released on 18 August 1949.

The film was mentioned in Oliver Parker's 2006 feature Fade to Black starring Danny Huston as Orson Welles.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Black Magic (1949 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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