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The Old Dark House (1932)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Horror, Thriller | 20 October 1932 (USA)
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ON DISC
Seeking shelter from a storm, five travelers are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when they stumble upon the Femm family estate.

Director:

James Whale

Writers:

J.B. Priestley (from the novel by) (as J.B. Priestly), Benn W. Levy (screen play)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Morgan
Melvyn Douglas ... Penderel
Charles Laughton ... Sir William Porterhouse
Lilian Bond ... Gladys (as Lillian Bond)
Ernest Thesiger ... Horace Femm
Eva Moore Eva Moore ... Rebecca Femm
Raymond Massey ... Philip Waverton
Gloria Stuart ... Margaret Waverton
Elspeth Dudgeon ... Sir Roderick Femm (as John Dudgeon)
Brember Wills Brember Wills ... Saul Femm
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Storyline

Seeking shelter from a pounding rainstorm in a remote region of Wales, several travellers are admitted to a gloomy, foreboding mansion belonging to the extremely strange Femm family. Trying to make the best of it, the guests must deal with their sepulchral host, Horace Femm and his obsessive, malevolent sister Rebecca. Things get worse as the brutish manservant Morgan gets drunk, runs amuck and releases the long pent-up brother Saul, a psychotic pyromaniac who gleefully tries to destroy the residence by setting it on fire. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

storm | butler | guest | night | fear | See All (62) »

Taglines:

Beware the night!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 October 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El caserón de las sombras See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$25,678, 2 November 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the beginning Melvyn Douglas is singing "Singing in the Rain". That movie didn't come out until 1952, but the actual song came out in 1929. See more »

Goofs

Morgan pulls the chair out for Margaret, then steps back and stands in the background, watching her. The next frame cuts to the opposite end of the table, where Morgan appears to have magically teleported, as he is there too, busy serving food. See more »

Quotes

Horace Femm: We make our own electric light here, and we are not very good at it. Pray, don't be alarmed if they go out altogether
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the introductory credits there is a 'producer's note' (on some prints it appears before the studio logo) : 'Karloff, the mad butler in this production, is the same Karloff who created the part of the mechanical monster in "Frankenstein". We explain this to settle all disputes in advance, even though such disputes are a tribute to his great versatility.' See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Singin' in the Rain
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Sung by Melvyn Douglas a cappella, with modified lyrics
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Have a potato ...
11 November 2003 | by kennethwright45See all my reviews

While perfectly enjoyable as a camp comedy of manners (that element comes courtesy of director James Whale) and as an elegant, low-key horror, The Old Dark House can best be appreciated when you know a little about JB Priestley, author of the source play Benighted. (Or was it originally a novel? It definitely exists as a stage play, at any rate.)

Priestley was an English playwright, novelist, radio broadcaster and journalist who became very well known in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s for presenting a kindly, commonsensical version of socialism and community spirit to a nation battling through the Great Depression, the Second World War and its aftermath. Several of his plays combine a supernatural or at least mysterious strain with an allegorical message about the importance of unselfishness and people working together to help one another. If you watch The Old Dark House with these points in mind you may see it in a more moving and profound light. Dangerous Corner and An Inspector Calls are similar examples of his work, still popular in Britain with amateur drama groups and touring theatre companies.

If you can, see Old Dark House and Whale's later Bride of Frankenstein as a home video double bill and compare Ernest Thesiger's delightfully feline and remarkably similar performances as Horace Femm and Dr Praetorius. "Have a potato" and "Have some gin" may well become part of your private family language for ever after.


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