Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1949)

Starring Gwendoline Watford, Kay Tendeter, Irving Steen, Vernon Charles, Connie Goodwin
Directed by Ivan Barnett
(actor & director credits courtesy

A wealthy man and his ailing sister are warned they are under a family curse that will ensure their deaths before the age of thirty.

Based on one of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous tales of horror, this adaptation is a terrible misfire, not creepy in the least, and paling in comparison to Roger Corman's 1960 adaptation of the same story, House Of Usher.  Watford and Tendeter are miscast, conveying none of the haggardness and frailty in their performances that Poe described in their characters, and to expand Poe's short story, the screenwriters add a ludicrous subplot concerning the Ushers' insane mother and her violent protection of a decapitated head.  I could overlook some of these faults if the film was more suspensefully staged, but director/cinematographer Barnett frames almost all the pivotal scenes in long shots without closeups or editing to create excitement.

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