The Old Dark House

1932

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.

Cast
Boris Karloff .... Morgan
Melvyn Douglas .... Roger Penderel
Charles Laughton .... Sir William Porterhouse
Lilian Bond .... Gladys DuCane
Ernest Thesiger .... Horace Femm
Eva Moore .... Rebecca Femm
Raymond Massey .... Philip Waverton
Gloria Stuart .... Margaret Waverton
Elspeth Dudgeon .... Sir Roderick Femm
Brember Wills .... Saul Femm

 

 

Gloria Stuart

Gloria Frances Stewart, a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, was born in Santa Monica, California, on July 4, 1910. She shortened her last name from "Stewart" to "Stuart" because she thought its six letters balanced perfectly on a theater's marquee with the six letters in "Gloria". She did some acting while in college at the University of California at Berkeley and later worked on stage in little theater productions. She was selected as one of the thirteen WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1932. Universal enticed the glamourous blond actress with the assurance of "big plans", but outside of her films for director James Whale (Old Dark House, The (1932), Invisible Man, The (1933) and Kiss Before the Mirror, The (1933)), that promise went unkept as the studio stuck her in a long series of unmemorable program pictures. Her career with Universal Studios failed to gain momentum and she moved to 20th Century Fox. By the end of the decade she had starred in more than forty films, including Roman Scandals (1933) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) but had not become a major star. She made a few films during the 1940s but had become more interested in working with the Screen Actors Guild, and in developing her talents as a painter. As an artist she became well respected with her work being exhibited throughout a series of one-woman shows in New York, Austria and Italy. After a thirty year break from acting, she appeared in the 1975 television movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden and over the next few years appeared regularly on television. She made her first cinema appearance in almost forty years when she appeared in My Favourite Year in 1982. Widowed since 1978 (her husband was screenwriter Arthur Sheekman ). Gloria was the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as the 100-year-old survivor of the sinking of the Titanic (1997). She was the only cast member on the set of Titanic who was living at the time of the actual disaster. Titanic was her second film that featured a doomed ship. One of her early film, Here Comes the Navy, was filmed aboard the USS Arizona. She appeared in Hanson's music video "River" (1998) and was chosen by People Magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world that same year. Stuart found herself in demand after this and was constantly employed, with her most recent role being in a Murder, She Wrote TV movie in 2001.

Lillian Bond

Birth: Jan. 18, 1908 London, UK
Death: Jan. 25, 1991Attractive brunette British actress who appeared on Broadway in the "Ziegfeld Follies" during the 1920s. Bond specialized in portraying the "other woman" in numerous Hollywood films of the 1930s and is best known for her banter opposite Melvyn Douglas as one of the naive strangers who venture into "The Old Dark House" in the 1932 James Whale classic horror comedy. Lillian is best remembered as an ethereal Lillie Langtry, object of "Judge" Roy Bean's unyielding desire in 'The Westerner' (1940). After her divorce from Sidney Smith, Bond retired from film, returning to play a supporting role in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) and a few minor parts in the 1950s. Retired for good in 1955.

Eva Moore

Eva Moore was born on February 9, 1870 in Brighton, England. This diminutive British stage actress, who in her later years appeared in occasional films on both sides of the Atlantic, gave her most memorable performance as the cantankerous religious fanatic Rebecca Femm in James Whale's classic "The Old Dark House" (1932). Moore was the mother of Jill Esmond, a stage and screen actress most prominent in the 1930s and the first wife of Laurence Olivier.