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Other Versions of this Movie

The Ghoul

1933

The Ghoul is a 1933 British Horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger and Ralph Richardson, whose debut film this was. The plot centres around a Professor (Karloff) who is to be buried with an Egyptian jewel in order to attain eternal life. When the jewel is stolen by his servant, the professor rises from the dead to reclaim it. The film, based on the play and novel by Dr. Frank King and Leonard J. Hines, was once considered to be a lost film since the original nitrate negative had succumbed to decomposition and no prints of the film were known to exist. However, an incomplete and partly decomposed Czech release print was discovered which was the only available print for several decades. Then, finally, an excellent quality print was discovered in the archives of the British Film Institute. *****NOTE ABOUT COPYRIGHT STATUS OF THIS WORK***** This version is the Czech print. This item was public domain in the US due to the ommission of a copyright notice and failure to fulfill other copyright formalities. The item remains in the US public domain due to it's public domain status under UK law at the relevant date of GATT/URAA (1 January 1996) rendering it ineligible for restoration of copyright. Transitional terms of UK Copyright legislation stipulate that the copyright term for this film continues to be calculated under the terms of the 1911 UK Copyright Act. This film was released in the UK in 1933. Under the terms of the law at the time, Cinematograph Films were protected as a series of "Photographs" with a term of 50 years copyright from the date of publication, a "sound recording" with a copyright term of 50 years from recording or publication and a dramatic work of collective authorship with a copyright term of 50 calendar years from the death of the first deceased principal author or the passing of the actual calendar year of the death of the last surviving principal author. The first principle author to die was director T Hayes Hunter (1884-1944). All other principle authors died within 50 years of T Hayes Hunter. As such, under UK Copyright law the film entered the public domain at midnight on 31 December 1994.



The Ghoul (1933) is a British horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, and Ralph Richardson, making his film debut.

Plot

Gaumont British borrowed just the vaguest outline from the 1928 source novel by Frank King (and subsequent play by King and Leonard J. Hines). King's novel is sub-par Edgar Wallace in which a master criminal popularly erred to as 'The Ghoul' has been responsible for a London crime wave. Betty inherits an estate on the Yorkshire moors from a mysterious benefactor, Edward Morlant, a dabbler in mysticism who years before had been her mother's paramour. But the will requires Betty to take up residence in the old house, where Morlant's corpse soon appears, walking and talking. Morlant tells her that he is an immortal adept and demands the return of his secret diary. The usual suspects and interlopers converge on the house, and upon Morlant's next appearance his resurrected self is killed anew, unquestionably stabbed through the heart. Morlant is soon perambulating again, as people begin turning up dead. All supernatural trappings are dispelled as 'The Ghoul' is penultimately unmasked as Edward Morlant's twin brother, James, a criminal mastermind whose fictive guises included not only his brother, but a bogus police sergeant and his brother's solicitor, Broughton. In a final act of madness, James torches the mansion.
The film screenplay uses the merest skeleton of the story and characters and blends it with the Egyptian mysticism of The Mummy (1932 film) while capitalizing on the "thunderstorm mystery" mood of The Old Dark House (1932), Karloff's two previous Universal Pictures. Eccentric Egyptologist Professor Morlant believes that if he is buried with a jewel called "The Eternal Light", in a faux Egyptian tomb he has constructed at his English country estate, Anubis will manifest before him, accept his offering of the diamond, and grant him immortality. Morlant appears to die, but the jewel is snatched by his servant before the interment. No sooner do the heirs arrive for the reading of the will, than Morlant rises from his tomb, finds his bauble gone, and attempts to punish the thieves. The jewel is punted from servant to lawyer to niece to Egyptian fanatic to spinster to mock vicar and eventually back to the revenant Morlant, who makes his blood sacrifice to Anubis before properly expiring. Morlant, it is learned, had merely suffered a cataleptic seizure, and had been buried alive. The mock vicar (Ralph Richardson) is revealed to be the chief villain, and having obtained the Eternal Light sets fire to Morlant's tomb. Betty and her lover manage to escape.

Cast

  • Boris Karloff as Prof. Morlant
  • Cedric Hardwicke as Broughton
  • Ernest Thesiger as Laing
  • Dorothy Hyson as Betty Harlon
  • Anthony Bushell as Ralph Morlant
  • Kathleen Harrison as Kaney
  • Harold Huth as Aga Ben Dragore
  • D. A. Clarke-Smith as Mahmoud
  • Ralph Richardson as Nigel Hartley
  • Jack Raine as Davis, the chauffeur (uncredited)
  • George Relph as Doctor (uncredited)

Release and preservation

The Ghoul was released in the UK in August 1933, in the US in January 1934, and reissued in 1938. The film was popular in the UK but performed disappointingly in the US.< name="karloff"/>
Subsequently, it disappeared and was considered to be a lost film over the next 31 years. In 1969, collector William K. Everson located a murky, virtually inaudible subtitled copy, Běs, behind the iron curtain in then-communist Czechoslovakia. Though missing eight minutes of footage including two violent murder scenes, it was thought to be the only copy left. Everson had a 16mm copy made and for years he showed it exclusively at film societies in England and the United States, memorably at The New School in New York City in 1975 on a Halloween triple bill of Lon Chaney, Sr. in The Monster (1925 film), Bela Lugosi in The Gorilla and Boris Karloff in The Ghoul. Subsequently, The Museum of Modern Art and Janus Film made an archival negative of that scruffy Prague print and it went into very limited commercial distribution.
Inadvertently in the early 1980s, a disused and forgotten film vault at Shepperton Studios, its door blocked by stacked lumber, was cleared and yielded the dormant nitrate camera negative in perfect condition. The British Film Institute took in The Ghoul, new prints were made, and the complete version aired on Channel 4 in the UK. Bootleg recording videotapes of this broadcast filtered among collectors for years, but when an official VHS release arrived from MGM/UA Home Video, it was the virtually unwatchable Czech copy. Audiences were grateful to simply see a major lost Karloff film in the 1970s and 1980s, but the film was disappointing in its battered condition. Finally, in 2003, just as the title was prepared for DVD, MGM/UA obtained the superior material for release. The restored copy has substantially raised critical appreciation of the film in modern times.

Later version

Where the original film had comic relief in the person of Kathleen Harrison as the heroine's spinster friend, the 1961 remake, What a Carve Up! (film) (No Place Like Homicide in the US), was a full blown comedy that owed even less to King's story than the earlier film.

See also

  • Boris Karloff filmography
  • List of rediscovered films


Category:1930s horror films
Category:1933 films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:British films
Category:British horror films
Category:English-language films
Category:Films based on plays
Category:Films directed by T. Hayes Hunter

4.08
T Hayes Hunter

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