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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Old Dark House (1932)

On a dark and stormy night, a disparate group of travelers (Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Lilian Bond) are forced to seek shelter at a creepy old mansion inhabited by a rather eccentric brother (Ernest Thesiger) and sister (Eva Moore). There's also a brute of a mute butler (Boris Karloff) and, of course, a locked door! Perhaps the definitive "old dark house on a dark and stormy night" movie, surprisingly the film was a failure upon its initial release but its reputation has grown considerably through the years. The film's effectiveness is due for the most part to James Whale's astute direction and his ability to create an atmosphere of imminent horror laced with subtle wit. The lively performances by the talented cast are also a major factor with the Thesiger/Moore atheist brother and religious fanatic sister act a highlight. With Brember Wills and as the weird family's 102 year old patriarch, actress Elspeth Dudgeon who's billed as John Dudgeon in the credits.

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