fbpx Biennale Cinema 2017 | James Whale - The Old Dark House
La Biennale di Venezia

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James Whale - The Old Dark House

USA (1932) / 72’
language English
from the novel Benighted

by John Boynton Prestley
cast Boris Karloff, 
Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Elspeth Dudgeon, Brember Wills
screenplay Benn W. Levy
cinematographer Arthur Edeson

Clarence Kolster
screenplay Russell A. Gausman
David Broekman
sound William Hedgcock
special effects John P. Fulton
restoration curated by Cohen Film Collection / Cohen Media Group

in collaboration with Universal Pictures
film laboratory Roundabout Entertainment



The tale of a group of stranded travelers who stumble upon a strange old house, and find themselves at the mercy of the highly eccentric, and potentially dangerous, Femm family. This well-performed, atmospheric thriller features the first credited starring role for Boris Karloff, as the hulking, disfigured butler. Whale’s trademark witty dialogue and sense of eerie gothic menace make for a memorable dark and stormy night by one of America’s finest purveyors of the classic horror film.


A macabre comedy in which Karloff plays a secondary role (a character inserted by the studio is more distracting than clarifying, maybe a red herring) in a house where nothing works. The couple who welcomes the unfortunate people taking shelter from a thunderstorm are unforgettable. Ernest Thesiger, whose way of offering a potato is high in undertones, makes one shiver; Eva Moore, his sister, is a fanatical Christian who is constantly shouting “No beds, no beds.” Gloria Stuart is as lovely as ever; Mervyn Douglas caustic and smart.

Bertrand Tavernier

Sala Volpi

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