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HISTORY

The 7 Jun 1919 Exhibitors Herald and Motography reported that producer Thomas H. Ince acquired screen rights to several literary works, including the 1918 short story by Gouverneur Morris, "Behind the Door." Although Metropolitan Magazine was credited with originally printing the story, other sources revealed that it was published in the Jul 1918 issue of McClure’s Magazine. Ince paid $10,000 for the property. An item in the 12 Jul 1919 Motion Picture News noted that writer Luther Reed was currently working on the scenario.
       The 27 Sep 1919 Motion Picture News credited director Irvin Willat as film editor, and the 7 Feb 1920 issue included Lloyd Hughes among the cast.
       The completion of principal photography was announced in the 4 Oct 1919 Motion Picture News. Among the last scenes filmed was a “water explosion,” which reportedly caused some damage to the studio and its furnishings, due to an excessive charge of black powder.
       Behind the Door opened 14 Dec 1919, and made its New York City debut in early Jan 1920 at the Broadway Theatre, according to the 2 Jan 1920 Wid’s Daily. The 21 Feb 1920 Motion Picture News reported a Los Angeles, CA, opening during the week of 19 Jan 1920 at one or both of showman Sid Grauman’s theaters. According to the 14 Feb 1920 edition, at least one of the opening-week screenings featured cast members Hobart Bosworth and James Gordon reenacting the picture’s climactic scene onstage. The event also featured a full orchestra ...

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The 7 Jun 1919 Exhibitors Herald and Motography reported that producer Thomas H. Ince acquired screen rights to several literary works, including the 1918 short story by Gouverneur Morris, "Behind the Door." Although Metropolitan Magazine was credited with originally printing the story, other sources revealed that it was published in the Jul 1918 issue of McClure’s Magazine. Ince paid $10,000 for the property. An item in the 12 Jul 1919 Motion Picture News noted that writer Luther Reed was currently working on the scenario.
       The 27 Sep 1919 Motion Picture News credited director Irvin Willat as film editor, and the 7 Feb 1920 issue included Lloyd Hughes among the cast.
       The completion of principal photography was announced in the 4 Oct 1919 Motion Picture News. Among the last scenes filmed was a “water explosion,” which reportedly caused some damage to the studio and its furnishings, due to an excessive charge of black powder.
       Behind the Door opened 14 Dec 1919, and made its New York City debut in early Jan 1920 at the Broadway Theatre, according to the 2 Jan 1920 Wid’s Daily. The 21 Feb 1920 Motion Picture News reported a Los Angeles, CA, opening during the week of 19 Jan 1920 at one or both of showman Sid Grauman’s theaters. According to the 14 Feb 1920 edition, at least one of the opening-week screenings featured cast members Hobart Bosworth and James Gordon reenacting the picture’s climactic scene onstage. The event also featured a full orchestra with vocalists performing nautically-themed songs.
       The film garnered an enthusiastic reception from critics, although the 17 Jan 1920 Motion Picture News described it as “an opus in brutality—an intermezzo in gory revenge.” This description was reinforced by an item in the 20 Dec 1919 edition, which noted that inmates at California’s Folsom Prison were “exceptionally fond of the fight scenes.”

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
27 Dec 1919
p. 117
Exhibitors Herald and Motography
7 Jun 1919
p. 32
Exhibitors Trade Review
17 Jan 1920
p. 711.
Motion Picture News
12 Jul 1919
p. 569
Motion Picture News
27 Sep 1919
p. 2667
Motion Picture News
4 Oct 1919
p. 2881
Motion Picture News
20 Dec 1919
p. 4466, 4512
Motion Picture News
27 Dec 1919
p. 229
Motion Picture News
3 Jan 1920
pp. 314-315, 418
Motion Picture News
10 Jan 1920
p. 683
Motion Picture News
17 Jan 1920
p. 915
Motion Picture News
7 Feb 1920
p. 1505
Motion Picture News
21 Feb 1920
p. 1884
Motion Picture News
10 Jul 1920
p. 416
Moving Picture World
10 Jan 1920
p. 300
Moving Picture World
14 Feb 1920
p. 1041
New York Times
5 Jan 1920
p. 15
Variety
31 Jan 20
p. 56.
Wid's Daily
2 Jan 1920
p. 1
Wid's Daily
4 Jan 1920
p. 11
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Tech dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Behind the Door" by Gouverneur Morris in McClure's Magazine (Jul 1918).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 December 1919
Premiere Information:
New York opening: early Jan 1920; Los Angeles opening: week of 19 Jan 1920
Production Date:
15 Jul 1919--31 Aug 1919
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Thomas H. Ince
5 November 1919
LP14413
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Oscar Krug, an old sea-faring man, returns to his village in Maine after a long absence and reminisces. In a flashback, he is seen as a middle-aged German American who faces anti-German sentiment when the United States enters World War I. He enlists as a navy captain to prove his loyalty, then secretly marries Alice Morse who follows him on his boat after being thrown out by her father who objects to the marriage. A German submarine sinks their vessel, and Oscar and Alice are the sole survivors. Days later, a German U-boat appears and takes Alice aboard, but abandons Oscar, who vows revenge after being rescued. A year later Oscar takes Lieutenant Brandt, the U-boat commander, prisoner. When Oscar learns the sad fate of his wife who was brutalized by Germans, he retaliates by killing the man, attempting to skin him alive behind a closed door. Back in Maine, the broken old man has a vision of his bride. His soul rises and embraces ...

More Less

Oscar Krug, an old sea-faring man, returns to his village in Maine after a long absence and reminisces. In a flashback, he is seen as a middle-aged German American who faces anti-German sentiment when the United States enters World War I. He enlists as a navy captain to prove his loyalty, then secretly marries Alice Morse who follows him on his boat after being thrown out by her father who objects to the marriage. A German submarine sinks their vessel, and Oscar and Alice are the sole survivors. Days later, a German U-boat appears and takes Alice aboard, but abandons Oscar, who vows revenge after being rescued. A year later Oscar takes Lieutenant Brandt, the U-boat commander, prisoner. When Oscar learns the sad fate of his wife who was brutalized by Germans, he retaliates by killing the man, attempting to skin him alive behind a closed door. Back in Maine, the broken old man has a vision of his bride. His soul rises and embraces her.

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

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