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Diary of a Madman (film)

Diary of a Madman
File:Diary of a madman2.jpg
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Reginald Le Borg
Produced by Robert E. Kent
Edward Small (uncredited)
Written by Robert E. Kent
Based on stories by Guy de Maupassant including The Horla
Starring Vincent Price
Nancy Kovack
Lewis Martin
Music by Richard LaSalle
Cinematography Ellis W. Carter
Edited by Grant Whytock
Robert Kent Productions/Admiral Pictures
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • March 6, 1963 (1963-03-06) (U.S.)
  • July 12, 1963 (1963-07-12) (Finland)
  • August 26, 1963 (1963-08-26) (Sweden)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Diary of a Madman is a 1963 horror film directed by Reginald Le Borg and starring Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, and Chris Warfield.

The screenplay, written by producer Robert Kent, is an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's short story "Le Horla" ("The Horla"), written in 1887.[1] Kent's rendition is notably divergent from the source material, especially in relation to the religious and moral themes of the film, which contradict not only those of the short story, but de Maupassant's as well.


Following the funeral of Simon Cordier (Vincent Price), a French magistrate and amateur sculptor, his secret diary is read out by Simon's pastor friend to a group of people gathered around the table, Simon's servants, and a police captain. The diary transpires that Simon has come into contact with a malevolent entity. The invisible yet corporeal being, called a horla is capable of limited psychokinesis and complete mind control.

Cordier first interacts with the horla when he meets a prisoner whom the horla drove to commit murder. The horla possesses the inmate and attempts to kill Cordier, who in self-defense accidentally kills the man. The magistrate inherits the prisoner's troubles as the horla turns its hauntings toward him.

As the horla begins to destroy Cordier's life, Cordier fears he is going mad and seeks help from a psychologist, who suggests he take a hobby. Cordier chooses to pick up his old interest in art, meeting a model along the way. The horla insists the model is not the charming jewel that Cordier sees, but instead a conniving gold digger, and compels Cordier to treat her as such. This sets up a conflict in Cordier, that he might not be the astute judge of character that his title indicates.

As his and others' lives are put in jeopardy, he becomes convinced of the horla's existence and decides drastic measures are needed to end the horla's evil. He lures the horla into his house at night. When his presence is felt, Simon hurls an oil lamp towards the curtains, setting the house ablaze.

Simon succeeds in destroying the horla, but not without sacrificing himself as the house burns in flames. The film concludes with the people seated round the table agreeing that so long as the horla, which they believe to be a figment of Simon's imagination, exists in the hearts of Man, evil will prevail.


Production and reception

The movie was originally entitled The Horla.[2] Filming started 18 July 1962.[3]

Director Reginald Le Borg said he wanted the voice of Horla to come out distorted but producer Edward Small wanted it to sound clear, which the director thought was a mistake.[4]

The film received mixed reviews.[5][6]


  1. ^ New York Times, film overview.
  2. ^ 'Brothers Grimm' Has World Preview: First Dramatic Production Shown on Cinerama Screen Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 July 1962: C7.
  3. ^ M.C.A. WILL DROP ITS TALENT OFFICE: Hollywood Giant Complying With Rule on Producers By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 July 1962: 34.
  4. ^ Article on Diary of a Madman at Turner Classic Movies accessed 9 June 2013
  5. ^ Diary of a Madman' Fanciful Horror Film Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Apr 1963: C9
  6. ^ 'Diary of a Madman' New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 June 1963: 37.

External links