The Black Cat (1934)
Hjalmar Poelzig: The phone is dead. Do you hear that, Vitus? Even the phone is dead.
Hjalmar Poelzig: Come, Vitus. Are we men or are we children? Of what use are all these melodramatic gestures? You say your soul was killed, that you have been dead all these years. And what of me? Did we not both die here in Marmaros 15 years ago? Are we any the less victims of the war than those whose bodies were torn asunder? Are we not both the living dead? And now you come to me, playing at being an avenging angel, childishly thirsting for my blood. We understand each other too well. We know too much of life. We shall play a little game, Vitus. A game of death, if you like..."
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Don't pretend, Hjalmar. There was nothing spiritual in your eyes when you looked at that girl.
Hjalmar Poelzig: Do you dare play chess with me for her?
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Yes. I will even play you chess for her. Provided if I win, they are free to go.
Hjalmar Poelzig: You won't win, Vitus.
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Have you ever heard of Kurgaal? It is a prison below Omsk. Many men have gone there. Few have returned. I have returned. After fifteen years... I have returned.
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: You sold Marmorus to the Russians. You scurried away in the night and left us to die. Is it to be wondered that you should choose this place to build your house? A masterpiece of construction built upon the ruins of the masterpiece of destruction - a masterpiece of murder.
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: The murderer of 10,000 men returns to the place of his crime. Those who died were fortunate. I was taken prisoner to Kurgaal. Kurgaal, where the soul is killed, slowly. Fifteen years I've rotted in the darkness... waited. Not to kill you, but to kill your soul - slowly.
Peter Allison: This is a very interesting house you hae here, Herr Poelzig. Has an atmosphere... kind of uh...
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: It is indeed hard to describe. As hard to describe as life... or death? It might well be an atmosphere of death. This place was built upon the ruins of the same Ft. Marmorus that our unfortunate friend, the driver, described so vividly. Herr Poelzig commanded Marmorus during the last years of the war. He is perhaps sentimental about this spot.
Hjalmar Poelzig: You must be indulgent of Dr. Verdegast's weakness. He is the unfortunate victim of one of the commoner phobias, but in an extreme form. He has an intense and all-consuming horror of cats.
Peter Allison: Strange about the cat. Joan seemed so curiously affected when you killed it.
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Do you mind if I keep this door open?
Peter Allison: I'd sleep in a cold sweat if you didn't. You know... this is a very tricky house. The kind of place where I'd like to have company.
Peter Allison: If I wanted to build a nice, cozy, unpretentious insane asylum, he'd be the man for it.
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Did you ever hear of Satanism, the worship of the devil, of evil? Herr Poelzig is a great modern priest of that ancient cult. And tonight in dark of the moon the rites of Lucifer are celebrated. And if I'm not mistaken he intends you to play a part in that ritual... a very important part.
Joan Alison: Oh!
[breaks down crying and rushes to Vitus for consolation]
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: There, child. Be brave. No matter how hopeless it all seems.
[He looks over, hearing that the organ music has stopped, then looks back at her]
Dr. Vitus Verdegast: Be brave. It's your only chance.