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Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

 |  Crime, Drama  |  1943 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 292 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 13 critic

A madman kills a man who has just inherited a large estate, then impersonates his victim to gain entrance to the estate so he can murder his enemies.

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(novel), (scenario), 2 more credits »
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Title: Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Tod Slaughter ...
Sylvia Marriott ...
Hilary Eaves ...
Geoffrey Wardwell ...
Hay Petrie ...
Margaret Yarde ...
Rita Grant ...
Jessica, the Maid
David Horne ...
Elsie Wagstaff ...
David Keir ...
Lawyer Mr. Merriman
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Storyline

A madman murders Sir Percival Glyde. Taking on his victim's identity, the man returns to the Glyde ancestral home, Blackwater Park, in hopes of claiming a large inheritance. However, the estate is heavily in debt. Still hungry for wealth, the false "Glyde" takes advantage of a long-standing betrothal promise to marry young and beautiful heiress Laurie Fairlie. Having his true identity revealed could ruin everything, but this lascivious and diabolical "Glyde" is more than willing to kill anyone who stands in his way... This story is loosely based on Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. Written by L. Hamre

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lo strangolatore  »

Company Credits

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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Marian Fairlie sneezes, Sir Frederick Fairlie complains about her spreading germs. But the story is set in the 1850s, and the germ theory of disease would not be known to the public until the 1870s. See more »

Quotes

The False Percival Glyde: [after tying a noose around his victim's neck] You always said, you were a teetotaler. You're going to have a nice drop, now!
See more »


Soundtracks

Storm
from "Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 (The Pastoral)"
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Arranged by Jack Beaver
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User Reviews

 
Wilkie Collins must be still spinning in his grave.
10 February 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It seems surprising - not knowing the copyright situation with Wilkie Collins original - that a quota quickie producer like George King should be able to get his hands on a respected literary source like THE WOMAN IN WHITE. However, the script rewrites the story so it is entirely told from the viewpoint of the false Sir Percival Glyde. Other adaptations might tell the tale from the viewpoint of the heroines as they struggle to unravel the mystery - but we are aware of the deception from the start as Tod creeps into a sleeping gold prospectors tent and dispatches him in a manner that suggests he's read Hamlet.

The disadvantage of this approach is that the fascinating, complex characters of Collins' text are flattened to one-dimensional cyphers. Laura is as much of a shrinking violet as she is in the novel but the fascinating figure of Marion (sapphic hints well suppressed here) is sidelined for much of the time. The annoyingly-hypochondriac Mr Fairlie seems more robust and more of a stock-comic figure. But the reduction of the fascinating figure of Count Fosco to Glyde's stooge is the most grievous oversight. Fosco - a roly-poly lovable eccentric who liked dogs and sunlight - was all the more chilling for being above suspicion unlike the obviously-villainous Glyde. For all that Hay Petrie brings to the part, it's just a shadow of what it could be. Still, Petrie and Slaughter make a fine pair of rogues - a cut-rate British version of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

What do we get in compensation for this? Two words - Tod Slaughter. His films are unique in that we get to view the story from the villain's perspective - imagine James Bond from Blofeld's viewpoint. He rises to the occasion here and is at his most lecherous - fixing his beady eyes on a comely maid whom he assigns "special duties", then strangles when she becomes inconveniently pregnant, gleefully snogging Laura upon first meeting her, and finally trying his evil way on her sister at the climax saying "I used to break precipitous horses in the Australian gold fields, and I'll enjoy breaking you!" Seldom has any villain cackled so evilly as Tod does here. Tod may start the film in an understated fashion as "Sir Percival" comes home but he's soon giving us the full melodramatic range - shifty up-to-no-good expression, comic exasperation as the bills pile up, and unashamed lechery as - convincingly sloshed on his wedding night - he ominously mounts the stairs as his squeamish bride waits fearfully in her bed. Incredibly, he is allowed to have his "wicked way" with her. Further examples of unbridled villainy include opening the window in the bedroom of the pneumonia-ridden Woman in White - having announced he expects a "change in her condition" - and luring one victim to her death saying she will, shortly, "be going on a long journey". Freddy Krueger could do with Tod's gag writers.

Something just occurred to me. We never discover the true identity of Tod's character. But examine the facts. A boozy, lecherous, overweight rogue from Australia who abuses a position of social authority and whose very repellent physical presence doesn't dampen his sex-drive for the ladies - was he Sir Les Patterson?


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