In 1844, farmer's daughter Miranda Wells is invited by Nicholas Van Ryn, distant relation, to live in his mansion as companion to his daughter. Arriving in high hopes, Miranda finds the Van Ryns a bit strange. The parents barely know daughter Katrine; Nicholas faces a revolt of his tenant farmers; the servants hint darkly of curses and visitations. And what does Nicholas really do up in his tower room? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
As Miranda and Van Ryn dance through the doorway from the balcony into the ballroom, she holds her closed fan in her hand. When the shot changes after they enter the room, the fan dangles from her wrist. See more »
Johanna Van Ryn:
What can you possibly do up there?
Nicholas Van Ryn:
Possibly? Anything from pinning butterflies to hiding an insane twin brother. Actually, I read. I hope that my explanation satisfies you?
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As a fan of both Gene Tierney and Vincent Price, I eagerly sought this film for years before happening upon a broadcast. Since it, most unfortunately, still isn't available on video, I was forced to depend upon network whims. Since I'm also a fervent fan of gothic books and films, I was all the more anxious to see two of my favorite stars in one of my favorite formulae. I'd like to say the film completely fulfilled my hopes. Not quite, perhaps, but it's still a lot of fun, especially for those who follow the stars. (One friend said she thought this was the only Vincent Price film not available on video.)
If you enjoyed _My Cousin Rachel_ (another tragically elusive film!) or the Orson Welles _Jane Eyre_, you'll probably have a good time with _Dragonwyck_. The classic elements are there: lovely, innocent heroine (Tierney); brooding, mysterious, wealthy man (Price); luxurious yet sinister mansion; ghostly and/or murderous plot twists. One plot twist will probably come as absolutely no surprise, given the relentless typecasting of Price (has he ever been a good guy, except in _House of the Seven Gables_? --another great gothic, by the way). Nevertheless his character has touches of subtlety and surprising developments. Tierney's character is perhaps less subtly shaded but does develop nicely over the course of the movie. Jessica Tandy is quite fun in an energetic supporting role, and Tierney's stern, craggy father is another strong supporting character.
Few have probably read the novel that inspired the film, but after seeing the film I sought out the source and I have to say the film tightens up the story considerably. Certainly it makes changes, but overall the film is more satisfying in many ways. It may not be quite in the company of such classics as _Rebecca_ and _Jane Eyre_, but it's nonetheless a lot of fun.
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