The Old Dark House

The Old Dark House

Director: James Whale Cast: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton

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Overview

The Old Dark House

It's a wildly varied group that takes shelter from a raging English storm in the forbidding mansion of the Femm family. Among the reluctant guests are stuffed shirt Philip Waverton (Raymond Massey); Philip's sensitive wife Margaret (Gloria Stuart); their mutual friend, disillusioned war veteran Roger Penderell (Melvyn Douglas); vulgar self-made millionaire Sir William Porterhouse (Charles Laughton); and Porterhouse's no-better-than-she-ought-to-be lady friend Gladys DuCane (Lillian Bond). Under the baleful eyes of ungracious, atheistic host Horace Femm (Ernst Thesiger) and Horace's religious-zealot sister Rebecca (Eva Moore), the group sits around conversing, slowly coming to the realization that first impressions are most deceiving. Normally, that would be the whole story -- except that the old dark house contains a dark secret involving 101-year-old Sir Roderick Femm (played by "John Dudgeon," actually an actress named Elspeth Dudgeon) and pyromaniac Saul Femm (Brember Wills). Lumbering ominously throughout the proceedings is top-billed Boris Karloff, who plays Morgan, the mute, alcoholic family butler (the opening credits felt obligated to tell 1932 filmgoers that, yes, this was the same Karloff who'd portrayed the Monster in the previous season's Frankenstein). Directed with sinister verve by James Whale and brimming with unforgettable dialogue, The Old Dark House is one of the most enjoyable and least formulaic of the Universal "scare" pictures of the early 1930s. The film was based on J.B. Priestley's Benighted, although Priestley's hero dies in the book and does not in the film (this appears to have been a last-minute decision -- and a wise one). Long thought lost, The Old Dark House was rediscovered in the early 1970s; copyright problems with the lukewarm 1963 remake kept it off television until 1994, at which time a sparkling new print was struck, replacing the washed-out dupes with which film buffs were all too familiar.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/24/2017
UPC: 0741952840794
Original Release: 1932
Rating: NR
Source: Momentum
Presentation: [Full Frame]
Sound: [Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time: 1:12:00
Sales rank: 3,462

Special Features

New Interview with Sara Karloff; Curtis Harrington Saves The Old Dark House; Feature length Audio Commentary Track by Gloria Stuart; Feature length Audio Commentary Track by James Whale biographer James Curtis; 2017 Re-release Trailer

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 Producer
Benn Wolfe Levy Screenwriter
Jack P. Pierce Makeup
J.B. Priestley Screenwriter
R.C. Sherriff Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Old Dark House
1. Shelter From The Storm [10:36]
2. Unwelcome Guests [10:37]
3. Six Strangers [11:17]
4. Upstairs [9:23]
5. Funny Feeling [7:24]
6. An Unlucky House [8:56]
7. Playing With Fire [13:41]
8. Chapter 8 [:01]
1. Chapter 1 [14:43]
2. Chapter 2 [:01]
1. Chapter 1 [7:06]
2. Chapter 2 [:02]

Customer Reviews

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The Old Dark House 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
compsing More than 1 year ago
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!
anselmus More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago