Down 73,412 this week

The House of Darkness (1913)

 |  Short, Drama  |  10 May 1913 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.1/10 from 175 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 2 critic

A potentially violent patient in an insane asylum is calmed when he hears a nurse playing the piano. But shortly afterwards he breaks free, eludes his pursuers, and acquires a gun. He soon ... See full summary »



0Check in

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 14 titles
created 06 Jun 2012
a list of 432 titles
created 04 Oct 2012
list image
a list of 9982 titles
created 10 months ago
a list of 92 titles
created 8 months ago
list image
a list of 647 titles
created 3 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The House of Darkness (1913)

The House of Darkness (1913) on IMDb 6.1/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The House of Darkness.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

When Mrs. Harding dies, she leaves a mysterious letter to her pastor. The note tells how her cold, miserly husband worked her to death. She asks the pastor to administer a small trust which... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Mary Pickford, Charles Hill Mailes, Kate Bruce
Short | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An old proprietor is startled by the sudden appearance of a skull. Just as he draws back from the uncanny object, the doors of a mediaeval wardrobe fly back and a hand prods him with a ... See full summary »

Director: Walter R. Booth
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A young woman's peaceful existence is shattered when she is abducted by the crew of a boat of smugglers, who then also turn against their captain.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Blanche Sweet, Edwin August, Mae Marsh
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

At a tramcar in Copenhagen the piano teacher Magda Vang meets the young man Knud Svane, who falls in love with her. She is invited to spend the summer with him and his parents at the ... See full summary »

Director: Urban Gad
Stars: Asta Nielsen, Robert Dinesen, Poul Reumert
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Director: Alice Guy
Crime | Short | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The physician's death orphans his two adolescent daughters. Their older brother is able to convert some of the doctor's small estate to cash. But it is late in the day, and with the banks ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Elmer Booth
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
Director: Georges Méliès
Short | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A gang of thieves lure a man out of his home so that they can rob it and threaten his wife and children. The family barricade themselves in an interior room, but the criminals are ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: David Miles, Marion Leonard, Mary Pickford
Comedy | Short | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A traveler puts up at an inn. He hangs his overcoat and hat upon a peg in his room, but he finds, instantly, that his clothes are on his back again. He takes off his coat a second time, but... See full summary »

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès
Tit-for-Tat (1906)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Director: Gaston Velle
Stars: Fernand Rivers
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
Director: Georges Méliès
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A man comes onto the stage through the fireplace, divides himself, and sits on stools on either side of a table. He places a woman's head on the table and a hat on her head. She speaks to ... See full summary »

Director: Georges Méliès


Cast overview:
The Doctor
The Doctor's Wife
Charles Hill Mailes ...
The Lunatic aka The 'Unfortunate' Patient
The Nurse
Christy Cabanne ...
Attack Victim (as W. Christy Cabanne)
Asylum Guard
William Elmer ...
Asylum Guard (as Billy Elmer)


A potentially violent patient in an insane asylum is calmed when he hears a nurse playing the piano. But shortly afterwards he breaks free, eludes his pursuers, and acquires a gun. He soon comes to a house where a young wife is home alone, and there is a tense confrontation. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama





Release Date:

10 May 1913 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in Kingdom of Shadows (1998) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"At last a happy result"
26 July 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

At a time when Griffith's films were becoming increasingly gloomy and pessimistic (See The Painted Lady, Death's Marathon etc) The House of Darkness, in spite of the title and its theme of madness, is a little ray of hope. Griffith uses all his skill and technique to produce a work of humanity and poignancy.

The opening shot is one of the most beautiful and considered of Griffith's Biograph career, using contrasts in depth that are reminiscent of his earliest shorts, albeit far more carefully composed. Although it is a crowd shot, he has clearly given thought to every individual in it, giving each personal direction and allowing them to stand out. Griffith also contrasts the natural beauty of the setting with the plight of the asylum inmates, establishing a bittersweet tone right from the start.

Griffith repeats his famous "approaching" close-up from Musketeers of Pig Alley, having Charles Hill Mailes gradually creep up on the camera until his face is almost filling the screen. It's not as effective as it was with Elmer Booth in Pig Alley, although there is some early use of foreground framing with the dangling branch. Two other close-ups have even greater impact. First, there is the use of the ticking clock as a tension building device. Then there is that amazing close-up of Claire McDowell's hands striking the piano key, which has a really great impact, releasing the tension which has just been built up and grabbing the audience's attention simultaneously.

As with many of Griffith's films of this era, it is the acting which holds things together even more than the technical direction. Griffith knew that the performances had to be convincing for a film like this to work. Charles Hill Mailes was not often a lead player at Biograph (he can mostly be seen playing stern fathers), but he is very good here in a role which could easily have been all mugging and arm-waving. Interestingly Claire McDowell whom he menaces here was in reality his wife. They actually played side by side as an elderly couple in a number of pictures in the 30's.

This is a strong film with few flaws, and is among the four or five best Biograph shorts. Although Griffith had been wanting to make feature films for some years now, at this point he really looks ready to.

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The House of Darkness (1913) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: