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Gambler Dennis De Beaulieu (Richard Wyler) is tricked into killing a
man, and when on the run from the mob, he is tricked to hide in a castle
... where he all of a sudden finds himself locked in and confronted with
the castle's proprietor de Maletroit (Charles Laughton), who for no reason
at all insists that Dennis marries his niece Blanche (Sally Forrest), who
against all odds turns out a very pretty and completely virtuous young
woman who has no desire to marry Dennis - which is good for Dennis
inasmuch as she helps him escape. But when Voltan (Boris Karloff), the
only one of the castle's servants Blanche trusts, tells Dennis she is in
grave danger, he decides to stick around and marry her after all, just to
keep an eye on her ... and wouldn't you know it, after the wedding and a
failed escape attempt, Dennis and Blanche really fall in love - much to
the dismay of Maletroit, who wanted Dennis to ruin his niece's life.
But why, you may ask ?
Maletroit was in love with Blanche's mother (who is of course her
splitting image), but she preferred his brother over him. So he eventually
killed her and has since kept Blanche's father (Paul Cavanagh) - with her
thinking him dead - locked up in his dungeon, plus he has so far killed
every suitor Blanche ever had. Now though that Blanche has married a man
she loves, he decides to lock the lovers in with Blanche's father and
start the mechanism that moves the cell walls towards each other. Death
seems certain for Dennis, Blanche and her father, but Maletroit hasn't
taken into account Voltan's loyalty to Blanche, and Voltan, even though
already dieing after a run-in with the castle's guards, putsMaletroit out
of commission by a carefully thrown dagger and sees to it that he blocks
the mechanism that moves the walls with his own body just long enough for
him, Voltan, to release Dnnis, Blanche and her dad from their prison ...
and into a happy future ...
True, the plot of this period piece is incredibly far-fetched and
defies believability, but the film also features Charles Laughton as a
decadent nobleman as evil as can be, which is always a joy to watch, and
Boris Karloff in a rare good guy role but still great as usual. A
competent direction and a script full of macabre details further help to
make this film completely watchable and even enjoyable - all despite the