The Old Dark House

Many people know about James Whale from the 1998 movie Gods and Monsters, a fictionalized account of his last days (starring Ian McKellen) that stresses his professional frustrations as an openly gay man in Hollywood. The Old Dark House, by contrast, came along when Whale was enjoying his greatest industry clout, as the director of Frankenstein, and shows him beginning to experiment with the camp sensibility that would distinguish his horror projects. The movie opens with English spouses Philip (Raymond Massey) and Margaret (Gloria Stuart) bickering as they and a friend drive through the countryside in a torrential downpour. After the trio are forced off the road by a landslide, they seek shelter in a decrepit manor owned by the quivering Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger, later the sinister Dr. Pretorius in Bride of Frankenstein) and his deaf, Bible-thumping sister, Rebecca (Eva Moore), and presided over by their mute and hulking butler, Morgan (Boris Karloff in bangs and a thick beard). Continue reading>>