7.4/10
2,966
23 user 33 critic

La chute de la maison Usher (1928)

Not Rated | | Horror | 5 October 1928 (France)
Allan visits the sinister Usher family mansion, where his friend Roderick is painting a portrait of his sickly wife Madeline. The portrait seems to be draining the life out of Madeline, slowly leading to her death.

Director:

Jean Epstein

Writers:

Edgar Allan Poe (short story), Luis Buñuel (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Short | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A traveller arrives at the Usher mansion to find that the sibling inhabitants, Roderick and Madeline Usher, are living under a mysterious family curse: Roderick's senses have become ... See full summary »

Directors: James Sibley Watson, Melville Webber
Stars: Herbert Stern, Hildegarde Watson, Melville Webber
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein
Stars: Jeanne Helbling, Suzy Pierson, Olga Day
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Marie wants to escape from her job and also from her lover, Paul, an unemployed drunk. She dreams of going off with Jean, a dockworker. The two men quarrel and fight over Marie on two ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein
Stars: Léon Mathot, Gina Manès, Edmond Van Daële
Mauprat (1926)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Set before the French Revolution, the film tells the story of Bernard De Mauprat, a noble orphan, raised by despicable aristocrats, who is saved from the gallows by his cousin Edmée and his... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein
Stars: Sandra Milovanoff, Maurice Schutz, Nino Constantini
Finis terrae (1929)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Finis Terræ is a 1929 French silent drama film written and directed by Jean Epstein. The story centres on a small group of men harvesting seaweed off the coast of Brittany, and the problems... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein
Stars: Gibois, Jean-Marie Laot, Malgorn
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A traveller arrives at the Usher mansion to visit his old friend, Roderick Usher. Upon arriving, however, he discovers that Roderick and his sister, Madeline, have been afflicted with a ... See full summary »

Director: Ivan Barnett
Stars: Gwen Watford, Kaye Tendeter, Irving Steen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

In the tradition of Edgar Allen Poe join the Usher family as they descend into madness. Set in the 1880s a traveler returns to the Usher mansion to try to reconnect with his childhood friends and find out what killed his sister.

Director: Stephen R. Reynolds
Stars: Jay Chacon, Kevin Gates, Angela Irving
Ménilmontant (1926)
Short | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A couple is brutally murdered in the working-class district of Paris. Later on, the narrative follows the lives of their two daughters, both in love with a Parisian thug and leading them to separate ways.

Director: Dimitri Kirsanoff
Stars: Nadia Sibirskaïa, Yolande Beaulieu, Guy Belmont
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

It is the year 1839. Architect Jonathan Criswell receives a letter from his old friend Roderick Usher asking Jonathan to come and see him. Arriving along with his newlywed wife Jennifer, ... See full summary »

Director: James L. Conway
Stars: Martin Landau, Charlene Tilton, Ray Walston
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »

Director: Vsevolod Pudovkin
Stars: I. Inkizhinov, I. Dedintsev, Valéry Inkijinoff
L'argent (1928)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The business tycoon Nicolas Saccard is nearly ruined by his rival Gunderman, when he tries to raise capital for his company. To push up the price of his stock, Saccard plans a publicity ... See full summary »

Director: Marcel L'Herbier
Stars: Brigitte Helm, Marie Glory, Yvette Guilbert
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Obsessed with a general's woman, a clergyman has strange visions of death and lust, struggling against his own eroticism.

Director: Germaine Dulac
Stars: Alex Allin, Genica Athanasiou, Lucien Bataille
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Jean Debucourt ... Sir Roderick Usher
Marguerite Gance Marguerite Gance ... Madeleine Usher
Charles Lamy Charles Lamy ... Allan - the Guest
Fournez-Goffard Fournez-Goffard ... The Doctor
Luc Dartagnan Luc Dartagnan ... Bar costumer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abel Gance ... Bar costumer
Halma Halma ... Bar Waiter
Pierre Hot Pierre Hot ... Bar costumer
Pierre Kefer Pierre Kefer ... Bar costumer
Edit

Storyline

Allan has a hard time finding the Usher's house, which is known to be cursed... But he is a personal friend of Roderick Usher, who lives with his sick wife Madeline and a doctor. Roderick is painting a portrait of Madeline, but every pose exhausts her. Allan worries more and more... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

5 October 1928 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

La caída de la casa Usher See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Films Jean Epstein See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Connections

Version of The House of Usher (1989) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (Jean Epstein, 1928) ***
24 October 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

I had always wanted to check out this Silent version of the Edgar Allan Poe horror perennial, and not just because of Luis Bunuel's involvement; actually, he only served as Second Assistant in charge of interiors on the film – so much for the co-directing credit that is often attributed to him (including the DVD front cover). Ironically, when the disc was released by All Day Entertainment, I recall complaining about its "Collector's Edition" moniker when it was a bare-bones affair apart from an essay by the director himself – the company's President David Kalat, however, was prompt to inform me that the proposed Bunuel-related supplements fell through at the last minute.

Anyway, this is now my third viewing of the movie: the second had occurred either as part of an earlier Bunuel retrospective or to compare it with one of the many other filmic renditions of the tale. For the record, a viewing of the obscure low-budgeted 1949 British effort followed this re-acquaintance with the Epstein film, while I also own and have watched the U.S. short (also from 1928) and the 1960 Roger Corman/Vincent Price classic…but there are at least five more versions I would be interested in catching (by such notable directors as Alexandre Astruc, Jan Svankmajer, Jesus Franco, Curtis Harrington and Ken Russell)!

That said, my reaction to the film under review continues to be ambivalent: to begin with, this is perhaps one of only two cases which can truly be described as a dream-like experience (the other being the equally haunting but more readily satisfying VAMPYR [1932] by one of my favorite auteurs, Carl Theodor Dreyer); however, the sluggish pacing makes its brief 66 minutes feel long…not helped by the archaic parts of the accompanying score (at least, some of it was suitably avant-gardist) and the droning narration, reading the English translation of the original French intertitles, by respected but heavily-accented actor Jean-Pierre Aumont!

Visually, the film really cannot be faulted as the Impressionist first half (with images that could almost be taken for paintings) giving way unsurprisingly to Expressionism in the much-anticipated high-strung finale. Even more than in MAUPRAT (1926), Epstein virtually lets the camera and the editing tell the story: the acting actually leaves much to be desired (especially since both Usher and his guest are way overage, with the latter bafflingly also made out to be quite deaf!); as for Madeleine, she is played by Marguerite Gance (wife of famous pioneer film-maker Abel – Bunuel's disdain of whom eventually cost him his job!), who manages the character's essential frailty and subsequent wraith-like features. Incidentally, Roderick and Madeleine are here husband and wife rather than brother and sister; other unwarranted changes to the source material were its depiction of the Usher mansion as something of a monstrous abode, akin to Castle Dracula, and the rather disappointing climax in which the Ushers actually survive the ordeal – thus rendering the title pointless!

Again, the power (and reputation) of the film rests squarely on its memorable detail: taking a cue from Poe's "The Oval Portrait", Madeleine's 'painting' by Roderick literally comes to life as its subject fades away more and more (at one point, Madeleine even feels her husband's brush stroke on the canvas, as if it had really touched her cheek); her eventual succumbing to catalepsy, played out in slow-motion; the lengthy ritual of her burial (her resting-place even lying across the river, a la Bunuel's own much-later THE RIVER AND DEATH [1955]); her 'resurrection' (amusingly, the name Ligeia also crops up as an ancestor in the Usher family crypt!), with the sight of the casket moving about in the grave anticipating the surreal coffin-scurrying-through-the-wilderness sequence from the Spanish maestro's SIMON OF THE DESERT (1965), etc.

Despite the rather grainy DVD transfer (the faults of the print exposed all the more on my 40" TV monitor), the quality of the cinematography comes though – highlighting both the desolate, fog-bound landscape and the expansive interiors (the wind blowing through the house results in constantly billowing curtains and books falling from the library shelves in slow-motion); as already mentioned, Epstein practically runs the gamut of the cinematic language along the way, adopting such techniques as cross-cutting (at various points during one particular sequence incorporating, for no very good reason, a couple of frogs engaged in the act of copulation!) and superimposition, down to shaking the camera in order to evoke a character's disorientation. Unfortunately, the all-important closing moments of the film are rushed and decidedly muddled – even diminishing a nice effect ostensibly created by a constellation of stars, which appears in the skies behind the mansion, shaped like the Ushers' warped family-tree!

While highly acclaimed in some quarters - with hyberbolic claims ranging from "the finest horror film ever made" to "the pinnacle of artistic achievement in European cinema of the 1920s" - this version would be all but forgotten forty years later (it does not even earn a mention in Carlos Clarens' influential tome "An Illustrated History Of The Horror Film") and the exact same destiny befell Epstein himself later on, despite having been one of the three key avant-garde French exponents of the era (the others were the afore-mentioned Abel Gance and Marcel L'Herbier).


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 23 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed