The legendary Berwyn/Chicago-based horror/mystery film host will present his big broadcast premiere of “The Old Dark House” (1963), this Sat., Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV. The 1963 Columbia-Hammer horror/mystery/comedy feature masterpiece was directed by veteran director William Castle.
Some of Castle’s famous classic screen macabre masterpiece thrillers include “House on Haunted Hill” (1959, with Vincent Price), “The Tingler” (1959, w/Price), “Homicidal” (1961, with Glenn Corbett), “Strait-Jacket” (1964, with Joan Crawford), “The Night Walker” (1964, with Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor) and “I Saw What You Did” (1965, w/Crawford).
Castle’s 1963 Columbia/Hammer classic horror/mystery/comedy masterpiece was adapted for the silver screen from J.B. Priestley’s novel. Veteran screenwriter Robert Dillon wrote the 1963 screenplay adaptation of Priestley’s story.
31 years before Castle’s 1963 Columbia/Hammer production, veteran director James Whale directed his own adaptation of J. B. Priestley’s “The Old Dark House” (1932) for Universal Studios with Boris Karloff, Lilian Bond, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart and Raymond Massey. According to the British Film Institute, Priestley’s novel that inspired “The Old Dark House” was originally published under the title of “Benighted.”
Who was in William Castle’s “The Old Dark House” (1963)?
The players who appeared in William Castle’s 1963 Columbia/Hammer adaptation of “The Old Dark House” were Tom Poston (as Tom Penderel), Janette Scott (as Cecily Femm), Robert Morley (as Roderick Femm), Joyce Grenfell (as Agatha Femm), Mervyn Johns (as Potiphar Femm), Fenella Fielding (as Morgana Femm), Peter Bull (in the dual roles of Caspar Femm and Jasper Femm), Danny Green (as Morgan Femm) and John Harvey (as a club receptionist).
Veteran actor Tom Poston previously appeared in Castle’s Columbia fantasy-comedy production of “Zotz!” (1962). Aside from his numerous film and TV appearances, Poston went onto greater fame for his role of handyman George Utley on Bob Newhart’s latter CBS television sitcom, “Newhart” (1982-90). Robert Morley previously appeared in the role of Rev. Samuel “The Brother” Sayer in John Huston’s critically acclaimed romantic adventure with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, “The African Queen” (1953).
In addition to Castle’s adaptation of “The Old Dark House,” both Janette Scott and Mervyn Johns also appeared in Steve Sekely’s Allied Artists sci-fi creature thriller with Howard Keel; “The Day of the Triffids” (1963, a.k.a. “Invasion of the Triffids”). Peter Bull later played the role of Soviet Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky in Stanley Kubrick’s critically acclaimed Columbia nuclear Cold War suspense comedy with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964).
“The Old Dark House,” Castle, Columbia and Hammer
According to Jeff Stafford’s article on Castle’s 1963 Columbia-Hammer adaptation of “The Old Dark House” for Turner Classic Movies’ website, this marked the only screen collaboration between director William Castle and Britain’s Hammer Films. Castle’s 1963 production of “The Old Dark House” was implemented due in part economic factors between the director, Columbia and Hammer as production costs were not expensive in Hammer’s home base of the Bray Studios* in Maidenhead, England. This was also implemented as a result of Columbia’s alliances with Castle’s macabre productions in the United States and Hammer’s thrillers in Great Britain.
Opening title illustrations designed by a famous cartoonist
According additional information from Jeff Stafford’s TCM article, famed illustrator and cartoonist Charles Addams (of “The Addams Family” fame) designed the opening titles for Castle’s 1963 horror/mystery/comedy production. 13 years after Castle’s production of “The Old Dark House,” Addams worked on the opening title illustrations for the Neil Simon–Robert Moore–Ray Stark Columbia mystery/comedy farce with Peter Falk, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan and Alec Guinness; “Murder By Death” (1976).
A “mix-up” with a competing studio film during the Columbia preview screening of Castle’s “The Old Dark House”
During a late 1962 preview screening of Castle’s adaptation of “The Old Dark House” at Columbia Pictures’ Sunset-Gower studio lot in Hollywood, the third reel was mistakenly replaced with another feature that was produced by a competing studio. According to the American Film Institute’s database article on Castle’s production of “The Old Dark House,” the third reel of Walt Disney Productions’ “In Search of the Castaways” (1962) was shown instead of the third reel of “The Old Dark House” during the Columbia preview screening. Columbia officials stated that film processing firm Pathe Laboratories was responsible for the “reel” mix-up.
Originally released as a double-feature presentation in the United States with another Columbia-Hammer production
Columbia Pictures released William Castle’s production of “The Old Dark House” as a double-feature presentation in cinema venues from coast-to-coast with another Hammer production in 1963; according to a studio exhibitors’ advertisement. The other feature was Michael Carreras’ Columbia-Hammer thriller, “Maniac” (1963); with Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Liliane Brousse, Donald Houston and George Pastell.
Be sure to watch/record Svengoolie’s big broadcast premiere of William Castle’s “The Old Dark House” (1963), this Sat. on Me-TV!
With Tom Poston, Janette Scott, Robert Morley, Joyce Grenfell, Mervyn Johns, Fenella Fielding, Peter Bull, Danny Green and John Harvey; you will not want to miss out on Svengoolie’s big broadcast premiere of William Castle’s Columbia/Hammer classic horror-mystery-comedy masterpiece adaptation of “The Old Dark House” (1963), this Sat. on Me-TV! A perfect cinematic treat of spooks and laughs for all fellow super SvenPals everywhere with Sven’s additional fun facts, Doug Graves’ parody song of the evening and Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment! You will not be disappointed! Highly recommended!
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3/Cable 196/FiOS 489/Antietam Cable 194 (also on QAM digital 68.6 for Antietam cable subscribers)
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Cable 208/FiOS 460
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248/FiOS 460
Live-tweet with all fellow super #Svengoolie SvenPals from coast-to-coast via Twitter during Sven’s big broadcast premiere of William Castle’s “The Old Dark House” (1963), this Sat. on Me-TV!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago and beyond!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Svengoolie will be making his first 2020 in-person appearance at the Pet Supplies Plus location in his hometown of Berwyn, Illinois at Harlem and Cermak Plaza (7133 Cermak Rd., Berwyn, Illinois; 60402)! Sven’s Berwyn Pet Supplies Plus appearance will occur on Sat., Feb. 1 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (local time)! Sven will have a meet-and-greet autograph-and-photo session during the event! Purchase your treats/supplies for your favorite pet(s) and meet Sven in-person during his Pet Supplies Plus meet-and-greet autograph/photo session in his hometown of Berwyn on Feb. 1!
Wait, there’s more! Svengoolie will be returning to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) event for an upcoming appearance in Feb. 2020! According to Sven’s official Twitter site and the official Twitter site of C2E2, Svengoolie will be making an appearance at the 2020 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (C2E2) on Sat., Feb. 29 at 12:30 p.m. (local time) in room S504 (at the South Building at McCormick Place; 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60601)! Additional ticket information is available on the official C2E2 site. Again, to all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals in the greater Berwyn/Chicago region and beyond, have fun seeing Sven during his in-person Feb. appearances at Berwyn’s Pet Supplies Plus and the Chicago C2E2 2020 event! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Cameo mentions of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals from coast-to-coast jumped for joy when they heard Svengoolie’s cameo mention of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal David Fuentes (of “Terror From Beyond the Dave” fame) and his Universal “Creature” monster motion figurine for Sven in the “mail call” segment with Kerwyn during Sven’s Jan. 11, 2020 big broadcast of Jack Arnold’s Universal classic “Creature” monster sequel masterpiece; “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) on Me-TV!
According to additional details from David Fuentes’ official “Terror From Beyond the Dave” blog, the Universal “Creature” motion figurine was part of a series of Universal-licensed “Universal Monster” motion figurines (ca. 1992) and was given to Sven as a gift during Sven/Sventa Claus’ “Christmas Mystic Market”/Lyons, Illinois appearance back in Dec. 2019! Congratulations to David from the entire crowd of fellow super SvenPals everywhere on being mentioned by Sven for the official Universal “Creature” monster figurine gift for Sven during the “mail call” segment for “Revenge of the Creature!” We’re all proud of you and we’re all jumping for joy! Again, keep up the wonderful and excellent work, sir! Three cheers, two thumbs up, peace, kudos and “Hi-Keeba” from the entire crowd of fellow super SvenPals everywhere! -C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Be sure to donate generously/spread the word to help one of the friends of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee from the PM&L players troupe through her friend’s official “GoFundMe” website (to help offset expensive health costs)! Any amount helps! –C.H.
In connection to “The Old Dark House” (1963):
William Castle’s Columbia/Hammer adaptation of “The Old Dark House” (1963) is available on DVD as part of the William Castle/Columbia macabre anthology set, “William Castle Horror Collection: Five Films from the Master of Fright” from Mill Creek Entertainment (by arrangement with Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc./Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
Note: The author of “Silver Screen Reflections” does not endorse any advertisers on WordPress’ site platform and/or YouTube’s site platform. Also, the author does not endorse any political advertisements.