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A Scotsman abruptly breaks off his engagement to pretty Kitty and moves to his uncle's castle in the Scottish highlands. Kitty and her aunt follow Gerald a few weeks later, and discover he has suddenly aged. Some mysterious things happen in a maze made from the hedges adjoining the castle. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was to be the second 3-D film designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies. Contrary to some opinion, there is no evidence to substantiate that his previous film, Invaders from Mars (1953), was designed nor planned for for 3-D, and certainly was not shot in this process. Menzies, who was known as a director with a very "dimensional" style (eg. many shots are focused in layers), only directed one other 3-D film previous to this: "Fun in the Sun," a short that was shot for the aborted Sol Lesser production, "The 3-D Follies". This would be his final film as production designer and director. See more »
Kitty and Edith's rooms in the castle have their windows blocked with stone. That is shown in a shot of Kitty's room the night they arrived. The only light sources are candles and the fireplaces. Yet, in the morning, both bedrooms are bathed in light as if the sun were streaming in through these blocked windows. See more »
The Maze is directed by William Cameron Menzies and adapted to screenplay by Daniel Ullman from a story by Maurice Sandoz. It stars Richard Carlson, Veronica Hurst, Katherine Emery, Michael Pate, John Dodsworth and Hillary Brooke. Music is by Marlin Skiles and cinematography by Harry Neumann.
Scotsman Gerald MacTeam (Carlson) suddenly breaks off his engagement to Kitty Murray (Hurst) and moves to his recently deceased uncle's castle in the Scottish highlands. Kitty wonders why and decides to travel to Craven Castle with her auntie Edith (Emery). Upon arriving they find Gerald a changed man, prematurely aged and acting in a most peculiar way. Just what is going on at this mysterious castle? What is the secret of the big maze out in the grounds?
One of the early ventures into stereoscopic filming, The Maze is a delightfully off-kilter movie. As pretty much anyone who has seen it can attest, the ending, the culmination of great building by Menzies, is so far off the scale it borders on the preposterous, and for many it ruins the picture. Certainly myself had to rewind to check what I had just seen, for I felt like I must have nodded off and slipped into some sort of bad liquor induced dream!
That said, for an hour this is a triumph of atmospherics and set design. Menzies and Neumann cover the story with foggy exteriors and murky shadows, while the interior of the castle is a classic case of Gothic horror textures, with Skiles' musical accompaniments are perfectly evocative. The narrative smoothly moves along with the air of mystery hanging heavy, where the visitors to Craven are locked in their rooms at night, thus at night from the gap under the doors of the bedrooms a slow moving shadow is glimpsed roaming the corridors. What is it? What is it in the distant maze that is shuffling around? Leaving weird footprints around the grounds?
The characters are a stock group for the story, with intrepid girls investigating, shifty servants (naturally), well intentioned friends and lord of the manor harbouring a secret. Menzies fluidly uses the castle and grounds for atmospheric effects, neatly placing the characters within the palpable sense of dread and tragedy, and there truly are some striking scenes, especially the build up sequence to the revelation at film's climax. Then it's that ending...
On reflection the makers missed a trick, the chance to really create a terrifying shock, but you have to say it's also a product of its time and budget. And whilst I understand fully the groans and laughs that derail what has gone before, there is a sadness right there in the reveal, a touching tragedy that bears thought even if the ludicrousness of it all is practically impossible to forgive. 7/10
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