Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Fall of the House of Usher (1949)

To me, it is not Halloween without a little Edgar Allan Poe, and it just so happens that TCM has a nice selection of Poe adaptations available for viewing. For me, Poe has been such an influential author and person in my life. Some of the earliest trips into the world of darkness came from his quill, and his words continually resonate in my mind. My selection for the night was the classic, The Fall of the House of Usher from 1949.  
Plot/ A traveler arrived at the Usher mansion to visit his old friend, Roderick Usher. Upon arrival, he discovers that Roderick and his sister, Madeline, have been afflicted with a mysterious malady: Roderick's senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline has become nearly catatonic. That evening, Roderick tells his guest of an old Usher family curse: any time there has been more than one Usher child, all of the siblings have gone insane and died horrible deaths. As the days wear on, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax.
I love Poe, and movies about his work. Unfortunately, it is a mixed bag on what you get when you watch them. Sometimes, you get a great tale, and sometimes you do not. That is where this loose adaptation comes in. To me, this may be one of my least favorite adaptations of Usher. While it is not terrible and there is some decent atmosphere, it definitely comes across as seriously disjointed. While it is somewhat unique, and has a tolerable 76-minute run time, it definitely has more than low budget flaws. The most glaring flaw is the pacing, which is uneven throughout the flick. In watching it, I am unsure whether that is due to scripting or the directorial constraints encountered with a low budget and short run time. In the end, this was a decent and interesting effort but one that fails in comparison to some of the other adaptations from the period. If you love Poe and have some time check it out, but do not feel compelled to search for it.

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