The Old Dark House (1963)

86 mins | Mystery, Comedy | 30 October 1963

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HISTORY

The 3 Aug 1961 DV announced that producer William Castle would film his next project in England, where he hoped “to get a more realistic feel” than in Hollywood, CA. Months later, the 13 Dec 1961 Var reported that Anthony Hinds and Michael Carreras of Hammer Film Productions, Ltd., were looking to collaborate with “independent producers, directors and writers.” Their first such project was a remake of The Old Dark House. The 24 Jan 1962 Var claimed that the screenplay would be written by Ray Russell. He was later replaced by Robert Dillon.
       Principal photography began 14 May 1962, according to a production chart in the 18 May 1962 DV. Filming was completed approximately two months later, as noted in the 16 Jul 1962 issue. An item in the 18 Dec 1962 DV noted that the picture had been screened two days earlier at Columbia Studios, where viewers discovered that the third reel had been replaced with a reel of In Search of the Castaways (1962, see entry). Processor Pathé Laboratories was blamed for the error. Castle embarked on a twenty-city promotional tour, as stated in the 21 Dec 1962 DV.
       The Old Dark House opened 30 Oct 1963 in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City. Reviews were mixed. Although the 1 Nov 1963 LAT noted “some truly hilarious moments,” the 22 Oct 1963 DV asserted that the film succeeded as neither comedy nor suspense. In the 29 Jan 1964 Var, the ... More Less

The 3 Aug 1961 DV announced that producer William Castle would film his next project in England, where he hoped “to get a more realistic feel” than in Hollywood, CA. Months later, the 13 Dec 1961 Var reported that Anthony Hinds and Michael Carreras of Hammer Film Productions, Ltd., were looking to collaborate with “independent producers, directors and writers.” Their first such project was a remake of The Old Dark House. The 24 Jan 1962 Var claimed that the screenplay would be written by Ray Russell. He was later replaced by Robert Dillon.
       Principal photography began 14 May 1962, according to a production chart in the 18 May 1962 DV. Filming was completed approximately two months later, as noted in the 16 Jul 1962 issue. An item in the 18 Dec 1962 DV noted that the picture had been screened two days earlier at Columbia Studios, where viewers discovered that the third reel had been replaced with a reel of In Search of the Castaways (1962, see entry). Processor Pathé Laboratories was blamed for the error. Castle embarked on a twenty-city promotional tour, as stated in the 21 Dec 1962 DV.
       The Old Dark House opened 30 Oct 1963 in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City. Reviews were mixed. Although the 1 Nov 1963 LAT noted “some truly hilarious moments,” the 22 Oct 1963 DV asserted that the film succeeded as neither comedy nor suspense. In the 29 Jan 1964 Var, the picture was listed among Canadian critic Clyde Gilmour’s ten worst releases of the previous year.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 May 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1963
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1963
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1963
Section D, p. 9.
New York Times
31 Oct 1963
p. 26.
Variety
13 Dec 1961
p. 15.
Variety
24 Jan 1962
p. 12.
Variety
29 Jan 1964
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
1st, 2d & 3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod (see note)
Assoc prod (see note)
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus
Cam grip
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
2d asst ed
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
Sd mix
Sd ed
Sd cam op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod secy
Stills
Studio mgr
Constr mgr
Chief elec
Prop master
Prop buyer
Title backgrounds
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Benighted by J. B. Priestley (London, 1928).
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 October 1963
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 30 October 1963
Production Date:
14 May--mid July 1962
Copyright Claimant:
William Castle Productions
Copyright Date:
1 June 1963
Copyright Number:
LP25415
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman color by Pathé
Duration(in mins):
86
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Tom Penderel, an American car salesman in London, delivers a car to an old mansion in Wales and discovers that his eccentric client, Casper Femm, is dead. The car crashes in a raging storm, and Tom is invited to stay at the house by members of Casper's family, including his nieces, the demure young Cecily and the seductive Morgana, and his Uncle Potiphar, who has been building an ark in anticipation of another great flood. Each of the relatives is required to return to the dilapidated mansion before midnight each evening or forfeit his share of the family fortune. During the night, one of the Femm family dies every hour. First Agatha Femm, Casper's mother, is discovered with her knitting needles stuck in her throat. Casper's twin brother, Jasper, is the next victim, followed by Roderick, the head of the family. Tom stumbles upon the fact that the killer is a woman, and he accuses Morgana, but Cecily confesses, explaining that she wanted the entire family estate. Cecily runs from the house, and Tom discovers that she has placed time bombs in all of the clocks in the house. Racing against time, he frantically defuses each of the bombs. With moments to spare, he hurls the last bomb out of the window, and it explodes at Cecily's ... +


Tom Penderel, an American car salesman in London, delivers a car to an old mansion in Wales and discovers that his eccentric client, Casper Femm, is dead. The car crashes in a raging storm, and Tom is invited to stay at the house by members of Casper's family, including his nieces, the demure young Cecily and the seductive Morgana, and his Uncle Potiphar, who has been building an ark in anticipation of another great flood. Each of the relatives is required to return to the dilapidated mansion before midnight each evening or forfeit his share of the family fortune. During the night, one of the Femm family dies every hour. First Agatha Femm, Casper's mother, is discovered with her knitting needles stuck in her throat. Casper's twin brother, Jasper, is the next victim, followed by Roderick, the head of the family. Tom stumbles upon the fact that the killer is a woman, and he accuses Morgana, but Cecily confesses, explaining that she wanted the entire family estate. Cecily runs from the house, and Tom discovers that she has placed time bombs in all of the clocks in the house. Racing against time, he frantically defuses each of the bombs. With moments to spare, he hurls the last bomb out of the window, and it explodes at Cecily's feet. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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