Dragonwyck (1946)

“I will not live by ordinary standards. I will not run with the pack. I will not be chained into a routine of living which is the same for others. I will not look to the ground and move on the ground with the rest … so long as there are those mountaintops and clouds and limitless space.” In this entertaining period drama set in the 1840s, naïve, God-fearing farm girl “Miranda Wells” (Gene Tierney) falls under the spell of distant cousin “Nicholas Van Ryn” (Vincent Price), an extremely wealthy but often brooding, megalomaniac who later also turns out to be a drug addict and atheist. The action takes place at a simple farm in Greenwich, Connecticut, and at Van Ryn’s luxurious estate in the Hudson Valley area of New York where the Van Ryn often secludes himself in a tower room for days on end. After Van Ryn’s sickly wife, “Johanna” (Vivienne Osborne) dies under mysterious circumstances, Van Ryn quickly marries Miranda but her happiness is short-lived to say the least. Van Ryn gets progressively stranger, the tenant farmers are starting to revolt and the couple’s baby son dies of a defective heart soon after birth. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve), Dragonwyck was based on a 1944 novel of the same name by Anya Seton. The solid cast includes Walter Huston as “Ephraim Wells,” Anne Revere as “Abigail Wells,” Glenn Langan as “Dr. Jeff Turner,” Spring Byington as “Magda,” Jessica Tandy as “Peggy,” Vivienne Osborne as “Johanna Van Ryn” and Harry Morgan as “Bleecker.” The film’s tagline proclaimed, “Secret thoughts … That led to secret love … That led to rapture and terror!” Oh yeah, what the hell ever happened to “Katrine” (Connie Marshall)? Gregory Peck was reportedly the original choice for the role of “Nicholas Van Ryan.”

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