Shadow on the Wall (1950)

84 mins | Drama | 19 May 1950

Director:

Patrick Jackson

Writer:

William Ludwig

Producer:

Robert Sisk

Cinematographer:

Ray June

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Working titles for this film were Death in a Doll's House , Death in the Doll's House and The Open Door . The Hannah Lees and Lawrence P. Bachmann novel first appeared serially in The Saturday Evening Post (16 Jan--27 Feb 1943). Hannah Lees was a pseudonym used by author Elizabeth Head Fetter. A Jan 1945 HR news item indicates that Roy Rowland was originally set to direct the picture, and that Margaret O'Brien was set to star. The film was the only American picture directed by Patrick Jackson, a British filmmaker who directed several shorts, documentaries and feature-length films in England. M-G-M borrowed Gigi Perreau from Samuel Goldwyn, Zachary Scott from Warner Bros. and Kristine Miller from Paramount for the production. May 1949 HR news item lists actress Jewel Rose in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been ... More Less

Working titles for this film were Death in a Doll's House , Death in the Doll's House and The Open Door . The Hannah Lees and Lawrence P. Bachmann novel first appeared serially in The Saturday Evening Post (16 Jan--27 Feb 1943). Hannah Lees was a pseudonym used by author Elizabeth Head Fetter. A Jan 1945 HR news item indicates that Roy Rowland was originally set to direct the picture, and that Margaret O'Brien was set to star. The film was the only American picture directed by Patrick Jackson, a British filmmaker who directed several shorts, documentaries and feature-length films in England. M-G-M borrowed Gigi Perreau from Samuel Goldwyn, Zachary Scott from Warner Bros. and Kristine Miller from Paramount for the production. May 1949 HR news item lists actress Jewel Rose in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Mar 1950.
---
Film Daily
13 Mar 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 45
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 50
p. 3, 6
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Mar 50
p. 231.
New York Times
19 May 50
p. 31.
Variety
15 Mar 50
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Sothern's cost by
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont seq
MAKEUP
Hairstyles des by
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Death in the Doll's House by Hannah Lees and Lawrence P. Bachmann (New York, 1943).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Death in the Dolls House
The Open Door
Release Date:
19 May 1950
Production Date:
11 April--mid May 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 November 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2682
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in feet):
7,533
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13918
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

David I. Starrling, a loving husband and devoted father, returns to his New York City apartment, following a brief business trip, only to discover that his wife Celia has been having an affair with Crane Weymouth, the fiancé of Celia's sister, Dell Faring. David shields his six-year-old daughter Susan from his discovery, but reveals his knowledge to Dell, Crane and Celia later that evening during a dinner party. At the end of the evening, after Dell and Crane have left, David angrily confronts Celia, and as he approaches her brandishing his souvenir handgun, she panics and knocks him unconscious with a hand-held mirror. Moments later, Dell returns to the apartment and finds her sister crying in her bedroom, certain that she has inadvertently killed her husband. After reassuring Celia that David is merely unconscious, Dell places David's gun in her coat pocket and accuses Celia of stealing her fiancé. As her anger rises, Dell reaches into her coat pocket and fires the gun at Celia, killing her instantly. Just then, Susan enters the bedroom, sees her parents lying on the floor and screams. David eventually regains consciousness and is later tried for the murder of his wife. The jury finds David guilty of first degree murder, and the judge sentences him to death. Because he is unable to remember what happened after he was knocked unconscious by his wife, David accepts the verdict and resigns himself to spending the rest of his life on death row. Dell, who watched the trial in silence, continues to suppress the truth about the murder, even when she becomes tormented by feelings of guilt. Susan, who ... +


David I. Starrling, a loving husband and devoted father, returns to his New York City apartment, following a brief business trip, only to discover that his wife Celia has been having an affair with Crane Weymouth, the fiancé of Celia's sister, Dell Faring. David shields his six-year-old daughter Susan from his discovery, but reveals his knowledge to Dell, Crane and Celia later that evening during a dinner party. At the end of the evening, after Dell and Crane have left, David angrily confronts Celia, and as he approaches her brandishing his souvenir handgun, she panics and knocks him unconscious with a hand-held mirror. Moments later, Dell returns to the apartment and finds her sister crying in her bedroom, certain that she has inadvertently killed her husband. After reassuring Celia that David is merely unconscious, Dell places David's gun in her coat pocket and accuses Celia of stealing her fiancé. As her anger rises, Dell reaches into her coat pocket and fires the gun at Celia, killing her instantly. Just then, Susan enters the bedroom, sees her parents lying on the floor and screams. David eventually regains consciousness and is later tried for the murder of his wife. The jury finds David guilty of first degree murder, and the judge sentences him to death. Because he is unable to remember what happened after he was knocked unconscious by his wife, David accepts the verdict and resigns himself to spending the rest of his life on death row. Dell, who watched the trial in silence, continues to suppress the truth about the murder, even when she becomes tormented by feelings of guilt. Susan, who has developed psychological problems after seeing her mother dead, is placed under the care of psychiatrists Dr. Hodge and Dr. Caroline Canford at Children's Hospital. After studying Susan's play through a one-way mirror, Caroline begins to suspect that there may have been a third person in the bedroom when Susan entered it. Dell eventually learns about the details of Caroline's examination of Susan and, fearing that the truth may surface, tries to silence the girl by poisoning her chocolate milk. Her plan fails, however, when Susan accidentally spills the drink. After gaining legal custody of Susan, Dell makes plans to take her to her vacation home in Connecticut. Caroline, however, objects to the trip because she believes that Susan is close to identifying the mysterious person who was in the bedroom at the time of the murder. Because she is unable to prove her suspicions, Caroline is forced comply with Dell's wishes, and she and Dr. Hodge drive Susan to Dell's country home. Just as Caroline and Dr. Hodge are about to leave, Dell turns on a porch light, which casts her shadow onto the side of the house. Susan screams when she recognizes the shadow as being the same one she saw in her parents' bedroom on the night of the murder. Dell then makes a complete confession, after which David is exonerated and released from prison. +

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.