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Film / The Climax

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The Climax is a horror film produced by Universal Pictures, first released in the United States in 1944. the film stars Boris Karloff, Susanna Foster, and Turhan Bey.

Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever.

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The Climax contains examples:

  • At the Opera Tonight: The film centres around the opera, and the climax takes place during the opening night of an operetta that has not be staged for 10 years.
  • Brawn Hilda: Mama Hinzl, the landlady of Angela's boarding house. Extremely large, motherly and overprotective, she used be a soprano herself, and she keeps trying to fatten Angela up, because, as she puts it, "Who ever heard of a skinny opera singer?".
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: The King appears to be about 10. (He was played by Scotty Beckett who was 14 at the time, but looks much younger).
  • Concealing Canvas: Hidden behind a painting in his office, Dr. Hohner has a safe that contains his souvenirs of all of Marcellina's performances.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Dr. Hohner was obsessed with Marcellina that he could not stand the idea of anyone being able to see her body or hear her voice for just the price of a ticket. He strangles her in an attempt to destroy her voice. Ten years later, her hears Angela—whose voice is identical to Marceillina's—and becomes obsessed with her.
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  • Creepy Housekeeper: A rare heroic example. Luise used to be Marcellina's maid and is now Dr. Hohner's housekeeper. She slinks around the house looking like Mrs. Danvers and spying on Dr. Hohner. However, she turns out to be on the side of the angels, and is looking for proof that Hohner murdered her mistress. She helps Franz free Angela from Hohner's clutches, and later saves Angela when Hohner attempts to cut her tongue out.
  • Crippling the Competition: Dr. Hohner initially hypnotises Angela so she will never sing again, so that her voice can never outshine that of his beloved Marcellina. When the hypnosis fails, he tries to cut her tongue out.
  • Damsel in Distress: Angela spends the entire movie being menaced—either covertly or overtly—by Dr. Hohner, and being rescued by her fiancé Franz. (Or Luise, or Carl or the Vienna police...)
  • Fainting: The soprano who is told that she is to replace The Prima Donna Jarmila Vadek faints out of sheer excitement. Leads to a funny moment when everyone else storms out of the office for various reasons, leaving her still passed out the floor.
  • Foreshadowing: The first time Angela visits Dr. Hohner's surgery, she remarks that the surgical instruments frighten her. Later, Dr. Hohner will those same instruments in an attempt to remove her tongue.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Dr. Hohner hypnotizes Angela to render her incapable of singing.
  • I Love the Dead: Dr. Friedrich Hohner, obsessed with a beautiful opera singer, Marcellina, with whom he's been having an affair but who wants to break up with him, strangles her to death. Ten years later, another gorgeous singer Angela Klatt whom Hohner has developed an identical obsession with, discovers Marcellina's perfectly-preserved body, which Hohner has kept in a Snow White-like glass-lidded coffin for the past decade. Bonus points for, however delicately, implying even the possibility of necrophilia in a movie - stipulating that it was a B-Movie, which tended to not get quite as much attention from the censors - shot during the heyday of The Hays Code!
  • The Lost Lenore: The soprano Marcellina is this for Dr. Hohner, despite him being the one who murdered her. He still worships her and seeks to destroy Angela's voice because he believes it is Marcellina's and that no one should possess it.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Hohner is theatre physician at the Theatre Royal, and a Crazy Jealous Guy. To prevent Angela from singing, her firstly hypnotizes her to be unable to sing, and later attempts to surgically remove her tongue.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: The ultimate resolution occurs because of the Vienna police and not the hero Franz. While escaping from the police, Dr. Hohner locks himself in Marcellina's tomb, and sets fire to it. (The film is ambiguous as to whether this act is deliberate or accidental.) Hohner perishes alongside his dead love as the police struggle to open the door.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Dr. Friedrich Hohner, obsessed with a beautiful opera singer, Marcellina, with whom he's been having an affair but who wants to break up with him, strangles her to death. Ten years later, another gorgeous singer whom Hohner has developed an identical obsession with, discovers Marcellina's perfectly-preserved body, which Hohner has kept in a Snow White-like glass-lidded coffin for the past decade.
  • The Prima Donna: Jamila Vadek is the prima donna of the Theatre Royale, and bitterly jealous of the up-and-coming new soprano Angela Klatt. (She essentially fills the role of Biancarolli from Phantom of the Opera (1943), of which this film was originally intended to be sequel.)
  • Tap on the Head: Dr. Hohner escapes from Carl by whacking him over the head with a statue and knocking him out.
  • Terrible Ticking: Dr. Hohner is haunted by the singing of Marcellina: the mistress he murdered because he was jealous of her voice which was taking her away from him.
  • The "The" Title
  • Tongue Trauma: After kidnapping Angela from the theatre, Dr. Hohner takes a scalpel and is preparing to cut out her tongue when Luise intervenes.
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