The House of the Seven Gables (1940)
From the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne comes this wonderful film from Universal Studios. Before going any further I have to admit I have never read the novel so my enjoyment of the film has not been harmed or enhanced either way.
Starring here is Vincent Price in a role not usually associated with him. That of a young man in love with Margaret Lindsay. They have a life in front of them that fate twists into a lifetime of torment. Playing Price’s brother is George Sanders. Greedy, untrustworthy and a liar. Very typical of characters portrayed by Sanders and this one is no different.
The house in question belongs to the brothers and has long had a curse upon it due to the shady dealings of their ancestors. Upon their Father’s death, Sanders seizes opportunity to cast murderous accusations upon the gentle Vincent crushing his dreams of a life with Lindsay. After years of imprisonment, Price returns to his home that had been deeded to Lindsay leaving Sanders stewing over his loss of rumored treasures within the walls.
From here the plot is set in motion for revenge and with Dick Foran along to aid Price it’s very enjoyable to see Sander’s inevitable undoing. The film has plenty of supernatural overtones but it isn’t a horror film. It’s really a love story at it’s heart. Margaret Lindsay playing the love interest is really good in this. First as the young woman in love and secondly as the aging spinster who has waited 20 years for her love to return. The scene where she knows he has returned and retrieves her dress from a foot chest is a tough one not to tear up at. It’s really the best scene in the movie. Lindsay would move on to appearing in the Ellery Queen series with Ralph Bellamy following this.
Vincent is equally good in this as the young man with high hopes that eventually returns as an aged and broken man. He pulls the role off wonderfully. Curiously Vincent would star in 6 films with House the first word in the title including the 3D classic House of Wax. He would also star in a shortened version of Seven Gables in 1962’s Twice Told Tales that played up the supernatural as by this time he was known mainly as a horror star.
Rounding out the cast is Alan Napier(Alfred the Butler) as a mailman who himself ages throughout the film adding to the sense of time passing by. Contract player Dick Foran turns up here in the same year that he would battle Kharis the Mummy. Cecil Kellaway also appears as Price’s attorney and as the film ends his view of Vincent and Margaret is a nice touch at the film’s fadeout.
I snagged this title on the Universal Vault series and it should be a must for Vincent fans and those that despise Sanders.