Saturday, January 21, 2012

Black Mass of the Week - The Magician (Rex Ingram, 1926)



Adapted from a W. Somerset Maugham story quite loosely based on the exploits of Aleister Crowley, Rex Ingram's film stars Paul Wegener (better known for such German Expressionist classics as Student of Prague & 1920's The Golem) as the manipulative, sinister Crowley figure, Oliver Haddo & Alice Terry as the young sculptress he attempts to bring under his evil control & eventually sacrifice in a Satanic ritual not unlike the Babalon Working of our dear friend, Jack Parsons. In 1946, Parsons, a rocket scientist & founder of the American lodge of Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis, attempted the Babalon Working, a magick ritual whose goal was to conjure a physical manifestation of the archetypal divine feminine. The Satyr figure (seen below ravishing poor, pretty Alice) in The Magician is played by one of the 20th Century's great aesthetes, Hubert Stowitts, a colorful, magnetic dancer, choreographer, painter & actor.

Maugham's shaggy dog story was published in 1908 during the heyday of Crowley's notoriety in Great Britain. Maugham met Crowley in Paris & was so struck with his demeanor that he offered up an epic caricature of the man in prose. In a review of the novel, Crowley (using the pseudonym Oliver Haddo) accused Maugham of plagiarizing fantasist H.G. Wells & mystic Eliphas Levi, among others. Years later in his autobiography, Maugham dismissed the work, calling The Magician "lush & turgid".

Here is Maugham's novel in full.

















































The Faun, Hubert Stowitts & Director Rex Ingram on the set of The Magician

A Production Still from The Magician

Hubert Stowitts as The Satyr in The Magician
Hubert Stowitts as The Satyr in Rex Ingram's The Magician (1926) 

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