The Mephisto Waltz (1971)

# 14855 IMDb R 

The Mephisto Waltz (1971

taglineThe Devil Calls The Tune

Director: Paul Wendkos

Stars: Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Curd Jürgens, Bradford Dillman, Walter Brooke

Horror, Mystery, Thriller (1h 55min)


Rated 6.1 after 1,963 votes on 19-Feb-19.

1 nomination


Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda), a classical piano player on the rise, befriends Duncan Mowbray Ely (Curt Jurgens), a famous player himself who is at death's door. Unknown to Clarkson, Ely is a satanist, who arranges to have their souls switch places at his death, so that he can be young again and continue to play piano.


Alan Alda Jacqueline Bisset Barbara Parkins Bradford Dillman William Windom Pamelyn Ferdin Curd Jürgens

Alan Alda (Myles Clarkson), Jacqueline Bisset (Paula Clarkson), Barbara Parkins (Roxanne Delancey), Bradford Dillman (Bill Delancey (as Brad Dillman)), William Windom (Dr. Roger West), Kathleen Widdoes (Maggie West), Pamelyn Ferdin (Abby Clarkson), Curd Jürgens (Duncan Mowbray Ely (as Curt Jurgens)), Curt Lowens (Agency Chief), Gregory Morton (Conductor), Janee Michelle (Agency Chief's Girlfriend), Lilyan Chauvin (Woman Writer), Khigh Dhiegh (Zanc Theun), Alberto Morin (Bennett), Berry Kroeger (Raymont), Terrence Scammell (Richard), Leon Alton (Pallbearer (uncredited)), Jack Berle (Party Guest (uncredited)), Antoinette Bower (Member of Ely's Group (uncredited)), Walter Brooke (Party Guest (uncredited)), Frank Campanella (Detective Investigating Bill's Death (uncredited)), Harry Carter (Pallbearer (uncredited)), George DeNormand (Party Guest (uncredited)), James Gonzalez (Party Guest (uncredited)), Pitt Herbert (Flower Shop Clerk (uncredited)), Marta Kristen (Party Guest (uncredited)), Ethelreda Leopold (Party Guest (uncredited)), Murray Pollack (Party Guest (uncredited)), Leoda Richards (Party Guest (uncredited)), Cosmo Sardo (Party Guest (uncredited)), Jeffrey Sayre (Party Guest (uncredited)), Bernard Sell (Party Guest (uncredited)), Anabel Shaw (Nurse (uncredited)), Tim (Robin (uncredited))

From the same director


Produced by

Arthur Fellows (associate producer), Quinn Martin (producer)



Since the birth of the moving picture, the Devil has had a lucrative acting career. From Witchcraft Through the Ages to appearing as green goo in Prince of Darkness, there's never been a dull moment. In the Mephisto Waltz the "Master" makes a fleeting appearance, just a footfall and a shadow.

The Mephisto Waltz is oft compared to Rosemary's Baby, with the betraying husband and victimised wife. It is the direct opposite. The husband is the victim and the wife the betrayer. Throw in spatterings of Nothing but the Night, Season of the Witch, dream sequences similar to The Masque of the Red Death, and hints that the upper class/rich are "different" (They Live, Society).

The pianist Duncan Ely achieves immortality via soul transpostion. He selects his victim on their hands. It is interesting to consider who he was in previous "lives". The film hints that he may be Lizit, Rachmaninov and Mozart. Linking musical genius to pacts with the Devil is not uncommon e.g. blues guitarist Robert Johnson.

The satanists completely underestimate Paula Clarkson, even though she "warns" them that she's "tough, precocious and beautiful". Clarkson has obviously read/watched Casting the Runes/Night of the Demon (not the sasquatch film silly) and beats the satanists at their own game. She does this absolutely by selling her own soul. Surprisingly God and religion play no part in the film whatsoever unlike most films about the Devil. The characters in the film are Godless.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the aforementioned betrayal of the husband, Myles. Paula actively excepts Ely as her new spouse with no notion of redeeming or avenging her true husband. Why?. At the start, the couple share two scenes in bed. In both Myles is more keen on sleeping, rejecting Paula's advances. She jokes that they are intimate only once a year. She is not far from the truth. Myles has the libido of a eunuch with the personality, ambition and fidelity to match. When Ely possesses his body, the relationship with Paula becomes more physical and exciting. Paula prefers Ely to Myles who is quickly forgotten. Paula's only adversary is the daughter/wife Roxanne whose body she gladly accepts. Ely and Paula "deserve" each other.

Memorable quotes

[after smashing a headlight with a wrench]
Paula Clarkson: Oh, by the way, someone smashed one of the headlights. You shouldn't leave the Rolls out there in plain view. This neighborhood is full of rich teenaged bastards.

5 total 


Has the singular distinction of being the only theatrical film produced by Twentieth Century-Fox during the entire calendar year of 1970, this due to financial reversals incurred by the studio when several of its recent films failed at the box office.

5 total 


1 nomination 
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

Other titles

Balada Para Satã (Brazil) • Satan, mon amour (Cameroon (French title); France) • I Satans kløer (Denmark) • Satán, mon amour (Spain) • Tanssi kuoleman kanssa (Finland) • Horevontas me ton Diavolo (Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)) • Χορεύοντας με το Διάβολο (Greece) • La Macchia della morte (Italy) • Akuma no warutsu (Japan) • Baile con el diablo (Mexico) • Walc Mefisto (Poland) • A Valsa do Medo (Portugal) • Djävulen kommer vid midnatt (Sweden) • Вальс Мефистофеля (Soviet Union (Russian title)) • Seytanin izinde (Turkey (Turkish title)) • Der Mephisto-Waltzer (West Germany) • Der lebende Tote (West Germany) • Null Uhr fünf - Frauenleiche in der Badewanne (West Germany)



Australia:M / Australia:SOA / Canada:R / Italy:VM18 / Netherlands:16 / Sweden:15 / United Kingdom:15 / United Kingdom:X / United States:R / West Germany:16


Quinn Martin Productions (QM) (as QM Productions)


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