Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Mephisto waltzes through 2 tense witching hours

Cleveland Press April 30, 1971

Take a little witchcraft, mix with satan worship, spice with a dash of incest, play it against the piano music of Franz Liszt and you have "Mephisto Waltz," son of "Rosemary's Baby."

This picture not only deals with deals made with the devil, but with double-dealing with the aid of Satan as well.

Jacqueline Bisset is the heroine of "Mephisto Waltz" and it is the best work yet in the uneven career of this actress. She plays the role as though Mephistopheles himself were off camera scaring her on.

Alan Alda is her husband in the picture. He is a one-time pianist turned writer and during an interview with Curt Jurgens -- the world's greatest living pianist -- his hands come under the scrutiny of the great fan.

THE GREAT ONE is about to die but has a scheme with the devil to perpetuate his talents by inhabiting Alda's body. He is aided by his daughter, Barbara Parkins, with whom he is having an incestuous relationship.

The switch is made and there's Alda, an evil gleam in his eye and talent in his fingertips, a husband that Miss Bisset is a little anxious about.

She should be. All sorts of devilish schemes are cooking including the death of their child, fantastic nightmares and her own possible demise.

MISS BISSET strikes her own deal with the devil and the result is a grisly-happy ending.

"Mephisto Waltz" has a slow start but picks up speed before too long. Unlike "Rosemary's Baby" there are no either-or alternatives during the bulk of the story

The audience is never left in doubt that these are the forces of evil. If anything this sometimes becomes overly obvious. The cast performs well, with an energy that belies the obvious hokum.