Day 24 – Old Dark House movies don’t get much older than The Secret of the Blue Room (1933)

While we were on the subject of Old Dark House movies (we were, yesterday, remember?) I took a look through the youtube pickings. Well, The Old Dark House is on here, but I also noted The Secret of the Blue Room, which was mentioned as an Old Dark House that compares well to James Whale’s better known The Old Dark House (with Karloff) in Jonathan Rigby’s great book American Gothic. So I thought I’d give it a whirl. And, yes, it is pretty good of its ilk. The house (a castle) is old and dark, there’s a secret passage, skulking figures, and mysterious murders; however you’d be hard pressed to call it horror. It’s mostly a mystery. The plot: anyone who spends the night in the castle’s Blue Room dies or disappears. There is some suggestion that a ghost may be responsible, but that quickly fades when some of the characters start acting shifty. The shiftiest: Lionel Atwill, star of more Universal horror movies than anyone else. Along for the ride: Gloria Stuart (a holdover from The Old Dark House; you millennials know her from Titanic)(no, you’re thinking of Kathy Bates)(no, that was Frances Fisher)(yes, that’s right, that was her); Paul Lukas, bringing the Lugosi accent to the proceedings (Paul was a Hungarian actor who would go on to win an Oscar); House of Dracula‘s Onslow Stevens; and, in the best role, the detective,  Edward “Devil and Daniel Webster” Arnold, who is terrific.

It’s not the most Halloweenish thing you’ll watch, but it’s short and well-made. The print here is solid for the time, slight blur, probably struck from a tape source. Enjoy!




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