The Old Dark House

( 3 )

Overview

James Whale's horror film The Old Dark House gets a superb DVD release from Image. The disc contains a standard full-frame transfer (as should any film produced before 1955). The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. Neither subtitles nor closed-captions are available on this release. The superb supplemental materials include audio commentary by Titanic Oscar nominee Gloria Stuart and James Whale biographer James Curtis, an interview with Whale associate Curtis Harrington, and a gallery of ...
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Overview

James Whale's horror film The Old Dark House gets a superb DVD release from Image. The disc contains a standard full-frame transfer (as should any film produced before 1955). The English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. Neither subtitles nor closed-captions are available on this release. The superb supplemental materials include audio commentary by Titanic Oscar nominee Gloria Stuart and James Whale biographer James Curtis, an interview with Whale associate Curtis Harrington, and a gallery of production stills and promotional materials. The film has never looked better and the disc's extra features are truly interesting.
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Special Features

Digital transfer from the finest source elements available; Two channels of audio commentary: actress Gloria Stuart ["Titanic"], James Curtis [author of the biography of James Whale, "A World of Gods and Monsters"]; Filmed interview with Curtis Harrington; Gallery of production and publicity stills from "The Old Dark House"
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Although little seen since its original release, The Old Dark House (1932) had by the 1960s attained a grail-like status among fans of director James Whale, whose beloved Universal horror films included Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). The least successful of this quartet of fright classics, The Old Dark House came to be reconsidered a cult gem, part of the renewal of interest in Whale's talents many years after his creative peak. Whale's protégé and friend Curtis Harrington, who went on to become a director in his own right, rescued The Old Dark House from oblivion in 1968, after it had languished on Universal's shelves. Harrington repeatedly asked the studio to locate the negative, then convinced Kodak's Eastman House to finance the creation of a new duplicate negative of the unsalvageable first reel. Without his intervention, The Old Dark House would probably not have survived in any form. Harrington's heroics complete, The Old Dark House was seen once again in its original form after many years of speculation based on recollections of those who had seen the original, some beautiful set stills that had become popular collectibles, and European critics who had viewed post-WWII prints. Predictably, some Whale fans were disappointed in the film's scant thrills and chills. The story, based on the novel Benighted by J.B. Priestley, indeed lacked the shocks and scares of Whale's three other horror standards, eschewing the fantastic for more psychological suspense. Nevertheless, The Old Dark House contained all the other essential ingredients of the director's style, including moody shot compositions, mocking humor, witty dialogue, and sly hints of sexuality. Critics hailed it as one of Whale's gothic masterpieces, and The Old Dark House rightly took its place among the director's best-regarded titles. There are several interesting footnotes of interest to fans. Like other films of its time, The Old Dark House had no musical score, featuring music only over the credits. The portrayal of the hulking, primitive butler Morgan by Boris Karloff inspired Charles Addams to create his own butler character for his famed "Addams Family" cartoons, the character later dubbed "Lurch." Though credited in the film as "John Dudgeon", the part of aged patriarch Sir Roderick Femm was actually played by a woman, Elspeth Dudgeon. And female lead Gloria Stuart provided an amusing voiceover audio commentary for the film's laserdisc release. On hearing it, director James Cameron first thought of casting her in the pivotal role of Old Rose in his upcoming film Titanic (1997), for which Stuart was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, 65 years after The Old Dark House.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/2/2003
  • UPC: 738329011321
  • Original Release: 1932
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Region Code: 0
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Time: 1:12:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 2,038

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Boris Karloff Morgan
Melvyn Douglas Roger Penderell
Charles Laughton Sir William Porterhouse
Gloria Stuart Margaret Waverton
Lillian Bond Gladys DuCane
Ernst Thesiger Horace Femm
Eva Moore Rebecca Femm
Raymond Massey Philip Waverton
Brember Wills Saul Femm
John Dudgeon Sir Roderick
Elspeth Dudgeon Sir Roderick Femm
Technical Credits
James Whale Director
Arthur Edeson Cinematographer
John P. Fulton Special Effects
Charles Hall Art Director
Bernhard Kaun Score Composer
Clarence Kolster Editor
Carl Laemmle Jr. Producer
Benn Wolfe Levy Screenwriter
Jack P. Pierce Makeup
J.B. Priestley Screenwriter
R.C. Sherriff Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selection
1. Main Title [1:34]
2. Nice Weather for Ducks [3:23]
3. The Old Dark House [5:55]
4. Exceedingly Good Gin [2:40]
5. Fine Stuff [3:55]
6. "Have a Potato" [4:01]
7. Porterhouse [3:49]
8. Six People Sitting Around [4:39]
9. Stablemates [2:48]
10. The Lamp at the Top of the Stairs [5:16]
11. Shadow Play [1:32]
12. Morgan and Margaret [2:33]
13. True Confessions [4:07]
14. Wedding Plans [2:57]
15. Sir Roderick [5:02]
16. "There's a Madman Upstairs" [4:38]
17. Saul [5:58]
18. Thy Brother's Keeper [4:35]
19. The Cold Light of Day [2:00]
20. A Good Cast... [:35]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Begin Feature
   Special Options
      Soundtrack Options
         Film Soundtrack
         Actress Gloria Stuart
         James Curtis (author of A WORLD OF GODS AND MONSTERS)
      Interview with Curtis Harrington
      A Gallery of Stills
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A lost gem from the Universal Horror collection

    This is a great James Whale film, which was thought lost for many years. The humour is very English, and it did far better in Britain than in America. But if you like dry English humour, you'll love this. There are great performances from everyone. A real treat!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Old Dark House

    The Old Dark House is a little known but excellent film by the director of Frankenstein, James Whale. I highly recommend it for its entertainment value, the intelligence of its script, and the directing and acting. It is well worth the time to watch it, and is easily as good as the better-known Frankenstein. The characters in this film are better developed than in the Frankenstein movie. The Old Dark House is not so much a horror film as a macabre mystery. However, many subsequent horror films owe a debt to this film, whether conscious or not. It was a big hit in its day. Make it a point to see this one if you are interested in film history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews