The Strange Door (1951)

Approved   |    |  Horror, Thriller


The Strange Door (1951) Poster

Noble-born cad Denis (Stapley) has been tricked into a forced stay at the eerie manor of the Sire de Maletroit (Laughton), an evil madman who can't get over the death of his beloved, twenty... See full summary »


6.3/10
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3 March 2010 | hitchcockthelegend
6
| There's something afoot in the Maletroit home.
The Strange Door (1951) is released by Universal Pictures, it's directed by Joseph Pevney and stars Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, and Sally Forrest. Based on the short story, The Sire de Maletroit's Door by Robert Louis Stevenson, it comes with much horror credentials. However, and in spite of it constantly being tagged a horror film, The Strange Door is more a Gothic thriller tinged with madness and all round nastiness.

The story is a solid one as Laughton's Sire Alain de Maletroit plots revenge against his younger brother, Edmund {Paul Cavanagh}, revenge that comes in the form of imprisonment down in the family dungeon for 20 years. Not content with that, Maletroit, after telling her that her father is dead, makes Edmund's daughter, Blanche's {Forrest}, life a misery. Culminating in a forced marriage to scallywag Denis de Beaulieu {Richard Stapley/Whyler)} who has been duped and trapped in the Maletroit castle. But Maletroit hadn't planned for Blanche & Denis to hit it off, and also lurking in the shadows is servant Voltan {Karloff} who is loyal to the imprisoned Edmund.

This is very much an acting piece, both Laughton & Karloff could overact with the best of them, but the results were never less than entertaining. Such is the case here as Pevney creates a moody Gothic atmosphere in the shadowy Maletroit home, and then, lets his actors run with Stevenson's genesis source. There's much dastardly talking and the odd perky moment dotted along the way, but really it's only the lead actors that keep the piece from stagnating. Particularly at the midpoint when the good old romantic thread starts to be pulled.

Still it's a recommended film for sure, for its sets {Universal rarely fails to deliver here}, mood and its two scene stealing lead actors. Just don't go in expecting an outright horror film is all. 6.5/10

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