Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Gregory Ratoff is listed as sole director of the 1949 Orson Welles starrer Black Magic, but it is now common knowledge that Welles directed most of this lavish costumer himself. Told in flashback, the film recounts the life and times of notorious 18th-century hypnotist/magician/scam artist Cagliostro (played, but of course, by Welles). Learning the secrets of hypnosis from Dr. Mesmer (Charles Goldner), Cagliostro exploits this skill to gain wealth, prestige and, on occasion, romance. His downward slide begins when Cagliostro enters into an Anastasia-like scheme to substitute a young lass named Lorenza (Nancy Guild) for French queen Marie Antoinette. The charlatan's partners in crime are gypsies Gilbert (Akim Tamiroff, who manages to out-ham Welles in some scenes) and Zoraida (Valentina Cortese). Longer on style than substance, Black Magic is a wickedly delightful cinematic exercise, with Welles at his overbaked best.
execution, hypnosis, killing, magic, parent, revenge, role-switching, sorcerer, superstition, witchcraft