IMDb > Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Mr. Sardonicus
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Mr. Sardonicus (1961) More at IMDbPro »

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Popularity: ?
Up 21% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Ray Russell (screenplay)
Ray Russell (novel)
View company contact information for Mr. Sardonicus on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 February 1962 (Denmark) See more »
A man of evil... with a face that could stop a heart! See more »
A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Surprsingly literate and effective shocker See more (73 total) »


  (in credits order)

Ronald Lewis ... Sir Robert Cargrave

Audrey Dalton ... Baroness Maude Sardonicus

Guy Rolfe ... Baron Sardonicus / Marek Toleslawski

Oskar Homolka ... Krull (as Oscar Homolka)

Vladimir Sokoloff ... Henryk Toleslawski

Erika Peters ... Elenka Toleslawski
Lorna Hanson ... Anna
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Edith Atwater ... Nurse (uncredited)
Ilse Burkert ... Second Girl (uncredited)

William Castle ... Himself (uncredited)
Constance Cavendish ... Mrs. Higgins (uncredited)
Albert D'Arno ... Gatekeeper (uncredited)
James Forrest ... Geoffery Wainwright (uncredited)
David Janti ... Janku (uncredited)
Annalena Lund ... First Girl (uncredited)
Mavis Neal Palmer ... Head Nurse (uncredited)
Charles H. Radilak ... Stationmaster (uncredited)
Franz Roehn ... Gravedigger (uncredited)
Tina Woodward ... The Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
William Castle 
Writing credits
Ray Russell (screenplay)

Ray Russell (novella "Sardonicus")

Produced by
William Castle .... producer
Dona Holloway .... associate producer
Original Music by
Von Dexter 
Cinematography by
Burnett Guffey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Edwin H. Bryant  (as Edwin Bryant)
Art Direction by
Cary Odell 
Set Decoration by
James Crowe  (as James M. Crowe)
Makeup Department
Ben Lane .... makeup supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
R. Robert Rosenbaum .... assistant director
Leslie Gorall .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
James Z. Flaster .... sound
Charles J. Rice .... sound supervisor
Camera and Electrical Department
Homer Van Pelt .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jack Angel .... wardrobe
Pat Barto .... wardrobe
Other crew
Eylla Jacobs .... script supervisor (as Eylla Jacobus)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
89 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Australia:PG | Finland:(Banned) (1961) | UK:12 | UK:X (original rating) | USA:TV-PG | USA:Approved (Certificate No. 19991) | West Germany:16 (nf)

Did You Know?

Director Trademark: [William Castle] [gimmick]During its initial theatrical release, attendees were given small white cards with luminous thumbs with which to vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down.See more »
Factual errors: The winning lottery number only has 4 digits (and the ticket only has space for 4 digits) implying that there could only ever be 10,000 different lottery numbers in that lottery. However, Sardonicus wins enough money to become a baron and buy a castle. The only way this could happen is if either each lottery ticket cost a great deal of money, or if the organizers of the lottery made a huge loss.See more »
[last lines]
Krull:Master, I'm very sorry, but I missed him. The train had already left.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Foggy, Foggy DewSee more »


See more »
9 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Surprsingly literate and effective shocker, 13 April 2009
Author: ( from Whiting, Indiana

Of the William Castle films with which I'm familiar, "Sardonicus" is definitely the best. If you strip away some of the schlocky "padding" (the maid with the leeches, the "beauty contest" in the cellar, etc) you have a remarkably effective and entertaining film. Ray Russell's plotting and dialog are pretty high quality stuff, and some of the conversations have an almost poetic quality, especially in the scenes between Guy Rolfe and Ronald Lewis.

Of course, the dialog is all the more effective when delivered by a fine cast, and the stately, urbane Rolfe, the amiable and stalwart Lewis and the delightfully quirky and sinister Oscar Holmolka elevate this film FAR above its low-budget liabilities. Castle's direction is more than competent, my only complaint being the overly bright lighting throughout the castle interior, which robs many scenes of their creepy potential.

THEN THERE IS THE GRAVEYARD SCENE----a masterpiece of its type in the annals of horror films. Acting, direction, cinematography, etc ALL rise to the occasion, with the shocking revelation within the coffin and the psychological dimension of its effect on Marek/Sardonicus producing a scene which is as horrifying and disturbing as it is memorable; it's impossible to describe--you simply have to see it yourself. And the trauma continues as Guy Rolfe stumbles home in the dark, sobbing pathetically, where his wife (and we the viewer) first discovers his hideous deformity. I initially saw this film on TV when I was 20 years old and it STILL scared the crap out of me! Thank God I didn't see it when it was first released.

HERE'S A THOUGHT--- the shot of Sardonicus' father's corpse is so profoundly upsetting (to US as viewers as well as Guy Rolfe in the film)that I don't believe it was designed and created by Castle and his team; I bet anything that they "FARMED OUT" this shot to an effects team in Mexico--where the horror effects artists were FAR better at creating visuals of this sort. The final shot of the coffin lid opening (all the more creepy since it appears to open BY ITSELF)is interesting; if you look closely, you will notice that this is a DIFFERENT coffin lid than the one in the previous shots; the pattern of dirt and mold is different, as are the seams between the wooden planks. When the father's remains turn up later in the shocking padlocked-room scene, it's clear that the quality of workmanship is nowhere near as good as the coffin figure, instead appearing to be the sort of effect that Castle's production team would have created from their modest budget. I imagine that it's impossible to ever know whether or not my idea is correct, since too much time has passed since the film was made.

Many people make a big deal about the "Punishment Poll" gimmick for the film, but it's really just a distraction for any serious viewer; too bad that Castle's 11th-hour on-screen appearance breaks the mood just prior to the classically understated irony of the final scene.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Why wasn't it called 'Baron Sardonicus'? mistermemory
-handedness? vl2
Connection? eagle-78
My favorite 'reveal' ever! tom-2515
Impressed By Sardonicus' Perfect Diction! jack_north
replaced line in Wm. Castle's intro? albersbrian
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