The Strange Door (1951)

80-81 mins | Horror | December 1951

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HISTORY

The opening title card reads: "Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Door ." The film's working title was The Door . HR production charts indicate that Nathan Juran worked as art director for the first week of filming, after which Eric Orbom took over his position. The extent of Juran's contribution to the final film has not been determined. Universal borrowed actress Sally Forrest from M-G-M for this film. British star Richard Stapley's contract was shared between Universal and independent producer Hal Wallis. Stevenson's story had previously been adapted for an NBC television production entitled The Sire de Maletroit's Door, which aired on 28 Jan 1949 and starred Dan ... More Less

The opening title card reads: "Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Door ." The film's working title was The Door . HR production charts indicate that Nathan Juran worked as art director for the first week of filming, after which Eric Orbom took over his position. The extent of Juran's contribution to the final film has not been determined. Universal borrowed actress Sally Forrest from M-G-M for this film. British star Richard Stapley's contract was shared between Universal and independent producer Hal Wallis. Stevenson's story had previously been adapted for an NBC television production entitled The Sire de Maletroit's Door, which aired on 28 Jan 1949 and starred Dan O'Herlihy. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Nov 1951.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Nov 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 51
p. 3, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 51
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 51
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Dec 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Nov 51
pp. 1094-95.
New York Times
10 Dec 51
p. 34.
Variety
31 Oct 51
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Dial dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the story The Sire de Maletroit's Door by Robert Louis Stevenson (Portland, ME, 1900).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Door
The Door
Release Date:
December 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 December 1951
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1951
Production Date:
15 May--early June 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
30 October 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1249
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80-81
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15409
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a tavern outside Paris in the 1600s, fiendish aristocrat Sire Alan de Maletroit signals his flunkies to embroil Denis de Beaulieu, a drunken ladies' man, in a fight for his life. When Denis is forced to shoot his opponent, the tavern mob immediately brands him a murderer and he is forced to flee through the countryside, arriving at the Maletroit castle as Maletroit has planned. Once Denis enters, the door closes behind him and will not reopen. Maletroit informs the startled young man that he is now a prisoner and will be forced to marry the aristocrat's niece, Blanche. After locking Denis in his room, Maletroit discusses with his henchman, Corbeau, his scheme to torment Blanche with this forced marriage. After a horrible scream echoes throughout the castle, Maletroit warns his servant, Voltan, to quiet the madman in the dungeon. That night, Denis finds a beautiful young woman in his room and, upon discovering that she is Blanche, distrusts her as a Maletroit. The next morning, however, he realizes that Blanche is innocent when she begs Maletroit to let Denis go and allow her to marry a man she loves. Maletroit scoffs at her request and visits the dungeon, where his brother Edmond has been imprisoned for years. He tortures Edmond with the news that his daughter will soon be married to a faithless rogue, but as soon as his captor leaves, Edmond, who only pretends to be insane to stay alive, secures a promise from the faithful Voltan to kill Denis. Meanwhile, Blanche reveals to Denis that everything she has ever loved has been taken from her, and they agree to escape together. Voltan plans to ... +


At a tavern outside Paris in the 1600s, fiendish aristocrat Sire Alan de Maletroit signals his flunkies to embroil Denis de Beaulieu, a drunken ladies' man, in a fight for his life. When Denis is forced to shoot his opponent, the tavern mob immediately brands him a murderer and he is forced to flee through the countryside, arriving at the Maletroit castle as Maletroit has planned. Once Denis enters, the door closes behind him and will not reopen. Maletroit informs the startled young man that he is now a prisoner and will be forced to marry the aristocrat's niece, Blanche. After locking Denis in his room, Maletroit discusses with his henchman, Corbeau, his scheme to torment Blanche with this forced marriage. After a horrible scream echoes throughout the castle, Maletroit warns his servant, Voltan, to quiet the madman in the dungeon. That night, Denis finds a beautiful young woman in his room and, upon discovering that she is Blanche, distrusts her as a Maletroit. The next morning, however, he realizes that Blanche is innocent when she begs Maletroit to let Denis go and allow her to marry a man she loves. Maletroit scoffs at her request and visits the dungeon, where his brother Edmond has been imprisoned for years. He tortures Edmond with the news that his daughter will soon be married to a faithless rogue, but as soon as his captor leaves, Edmond, who only pretends to be insane to stay alive, secures a promise from the faithful Voltan to kill Denis. Meanwhile, Blanche reveals to Denis that everything she has ever loved has been taken from her, and they agree to escape together. Voltan plans to stab Denis that night, but when Blanche implores him to help Denis escape, Voltan agrees, and leads the young man through a secret passageway toward the burial grounds. Before Denis can escape, however, a guard attacks, and he is forced to kill the man. Upon recognizing him as the man he supposedly killed in the tavern, Denis realizes that Maletroit is a madman who orchestrated the entire scheme to hurt Blanche, and returns to the castle to protect her. During the wedding celebration the next day, Denis is grateful to see an old friend, Count Grassin, who arranges to help Denis and Blanche escape through the burial grounds that evening. Denis explains the plan to his new bride and they declare their love for each other. They manage to sneak out of the castle, only to find Grassin murdered and Maletroit's men surrounding them. Voltan tries to help them, but he is shot and the couple captured. Maletroit quickly notes that they are in love, ruining his plan, and decides to kill them along with Edmond. He informs Blanche that he once loved her mother, but after Edmond stole her away and she consequently died during childbirth, he vowed to destroy his brother and niece. He then locks Blanche and Denis in with Edmond and turns on a waterwheel, which causes the walls of the cell to press inward. With only fifteen minutes before the walls crush the prisoners, Voltan, who has survived the shooting, valiantly crawls back to the castle and fights with Maletroit, grabbing the key to the dungeon and pushing him into the waterwheel. Maletroit's body jams in the wheel, stopping it, and although guards shoot Voltan again, he kills them and struggles to reach the dungeon. He collapses outside the cell door, however, just as the wheel begins to turn and the walls close in again. At the last possible moment, Voltan pushes the key to Denis and the family is saved as Voltan dies. The next day, Edmond has the front door to the castle removed, but Denis and Blanche decide to remain there together. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.