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Madam Satan

1930 1h 55m Musical Comedy List
40% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 43% Audience Score 50+ Ratings
A socialite masquerades as a notorious femme fatale to win back her straying husband during a costume party aboard a doomed dirigible. Read More Read Less
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Madam Satan

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Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
Mordaunt Hall New York Times A strange conglomeration of unreal incidents that are sometimes set forth with no little technical skill. Apr 9, 2020 Full Review Elliott Stein Film Comment Magazine It is an oddity and a half, but not nearly as good a picture as Dynamite, made by De Mille the year before, also starring the delicious Kay Johnson. Rated: 2/4 Dec 12, 2017 Full Review James T. Hamada The Nippu Jiji (Honolulu) All in all, Madam Satan, despite its faults, is unusually good entertainment and remarkably well directed. Cecil DeMille is still a master showman. Apr 9, 2020 Full Review Rob Gonsalves Rob's Movie Vault "Once it starts to sparkle, it doesn't stop until it stops." Rated: B Oct 1, 2015 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews A stinker. Rated: C+ Sep 17, 2015 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (10) audience reviews
Gracie C Got to watching this film from many beautiful stills and gifs in other media. But there was one problem: the characters are so unlikable that it was painful to slog to the interesting dress/dance scenes as they were at the VERY end. It didn't 'not age well' as it was (as I'm convinced) bad on premiere. If like me, shameful acts/awkward humor is torturous: slip to zeppelin. You'll save yourself some time that took double points away from my lifespan as punishment for my movie choice crimes. Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 09/29/23 Full Review Audience Member Madam Satan is obviously very dated - it's 90 years old after all! There are plenty of misogynist and racist moments that will make you cringe. The husband, Reginald Denny's Bob, is definitely an abuser and needs some anger management ASAP. On the other hand, if you like or are interested in pre-code films this one is still fun. There are plenty of good jokes that do hold up. Roland Young is wonderfully dry and hilarious. The costumes are simply fabulous! They're honestly some of the best I've ever seen and it really made me wish it was in colour to fully appreciate them. The visual effects are actually pretty good too (for the time, obviously). Especially the zeppelin and parachuting scenes. Maybe not Cecil B. DeMille's finest, but if you can get past the wife begging her cheating, lying, abusive husband to come back to her, there is some fun to be had here. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/30/23 Full Review Audience Member a bit of a slow start, but the performances are universally splendid and the dialogue is clever. It is so quick that you may be startled by its sparkle. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review Audience Member The first part of this movie is just awful, and I think everyone but the most forgiving of viewers will find themselves rolling their eyes, cringing, or maybe even snoozing. The acting is poor, the cadence of the dialogue awkward, and character motivations often nonsensical. All I can say is, stick with it. There is silliness throughout the movie, but it gets much more entertaining as it develops, and there are some pretty wild scenes that ultimately made me like it, somewhat to my surprise. The premise of the movie is an age-old theme; a wife (Kay Johnson) does not like her husband's late nights boozing it up and philandering (he's played by Reginald Denny), while he doesn't like her coolness and lack of passion. "Don't you understand? Love can't be kept in cold storage. It's a battery that has to be recharged every day," he says, with clear sexual overtones. However, she's aware that he's having an affair, having found a note from his mistress (Lillian Roth) after he comes home drunk with a buddy (Roland Young). As a little indication of the silliness, the two men are sloppy to the point that they're showering with one another with their clothes on. Husband and wife argue and separate, even though it's clear they still love one another. Lillian Roth really lights up the screen and gives the movie its first real spark with her short musical number, "Low Down", shaking her hips and twirling about with a top hat (Google this one for a treat). When Johnson confronts Roth at the end of a mostly insufferable scene where all four principals are in her apartment, Roth points out that men, including Johnson's husband, appreciate her spiciness and fun. "What do I give him? I laugh when he does. I drink when he does! I give him a pal with lips to kiss and shoulders to hug. I give him a dream made out of perfume and soft lights. I jazz all the dullness out of his soul for him!" she says, warbling with a voice that sounds like pure 1930. Johnson vows to "raise her temperature" to win her husband back, and storms out. It's at this point that the movie gets good. Cut to a masquerade ball on a dirigible (of course!). The outfits (designed by Adrian) are wild, and the opening musical number is as well. Roth is getting a lot of attention from the men until Kay Johnson makes her dramatic appearance. Her transformation into 'Madame Satan' is excellent, and she really pulls off dressing up as a vixen, slinking around in a sexy outfit. Her husband finds himself attracted without knowing who she is, and things get crazy when the weather gets stormy. Suddenly we find ourselves in a disaster movie, and seven years before the Hindenburg. Director Cecil B. DeMille botched the first half of the movie, but really makes up for it in the second, with lots of nice moments, drama mixed with comedy, and risqué dialogue. The male performances from Denny and Young are pretty poor, but Roth and Johnson (when she's Madame Satan) make up for it. I may be rounding up a bit, but weirdly, I wound up liking it, and would watch it again. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review Audience Member It was just a hair below OK. But the things that intrigued me most were the scenes in the zeppelin. They were realistic and the hedonistic parties were swell! Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member DeMille's only musical is one of the strangest movies ever made; a hodgepodge of production numbers, sappy story, and disaster film aboard a zeppelin. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Madam Satan

My Rating


Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis A socialite masquerades as a notorious femme fatale to win back her straying husband during a costume party aboard a doomed dirigible.
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
Jeanie Macpherson, Gladys Unger, Elsie Janis
Production Co
Musical, Comedy
Original Language
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 1, 2012
1h 55m
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