• Dragonwyck

    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: January 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    Cast: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Vincent Price, Glenn Langan, Anne Revere, Spring Byington
    Year: 1946
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s directorial debut was this 1946 adaptation of Anya Seton’s popular novel of the same name. The story revolves around Miranda Wells (Gene Tierney), a beautiful but somewhat naïve girl from the country who is invited by her distant cousin Nicholas Van Ryn (Vincent Price) to come for a stay at his posh estate, Dragonwyck. It takes some convincing to persuade her religious parents (Walter Huston and Abigail Wells) to allow this, but once that’s dealt with Miranda takes him up on the offer and leaves their farm to visit Nicholas.

    She arrives and quickly learns that Dragonwyck is not exactly the posh paradise she expected it to be, thanks in no small part to Nicholas’ temper and penchant for treating his wife and daughter (Vivienne Osborne and Connie Marshall) rather cruelly. Shortly after her arrival, Nicholas’ wife passes away and he quite suddenly proposes to her – an offer she declines, seeing this as an impetus to move back in with her parents. Months later, Nicolas shows up at the Wells family home, bound and determined to make her his bride. When they return to Dragonwyck once more, their life quickly falls apart. She bares him a child that quickly passes away and a change in the laws robs Nicholas of his once substantial income. When Nicholas’ affections for her turn to the cruelty he showed his first wife, the truth about her death comes to light…

    More of a gothic themed romantic thriller than a traditional horror movie, Dragonwyck is nevertheless a very well-made film. The cinematography is excellent, the camera capturing all of the moody atmospherics of the mansion from which the story takes its name wonderfully. The exteriors present the house as a huge, hulking abode with marvelous old gothic architecture – it’s quite ornate. Of course, as the story progresses the elegance of the primary location shifts and the story gets darker and darker until it finishes. The visuals accentuate this, some nicely shot close ups and some stark lighting helps to build further mood. First time director Mankiewicz paces the picture well so that its’ almost two-hour running time never feels like a chore to deal with.

    Performances are very strong across the board, with Price and Tierney doing almost all of the heavy lifting asked for by the film’s heavy dramatics. While it isn’t always easy to buy the sultry Tierney as a naïve farm girl, that’s not fault of her work in front of the camera. She’s very good here, an actress as talented as she was beautiful. Price is in excellent form, really throwing himself into the part without hamming it up or chewing the scenery. They have the same sort of chemistry here that they share in Otto Preminger’s Laura made two years prior.


    Twilight Time brings Dragonwyck to Blu-ray on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original 1.33.1 aspect ratio. For the most part it looks quite nice, though the image looks a little blown out in spots, likely due to whichever elements were available for the transfer. The good most certainly outweighs the bad, however, as we get nice depth and detail, solid black levels and a clean picture with nice, natural grain and good texture throughout.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No issues here, the audio sounds fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the levels are balanced right. You might pick up on some very minor hiss in a few spots but you’d have to really listen for it to notice it, otherwise things shape up rather nicely in the audio department.

    The audio xommentary with film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker Constantine Nasr that was included on the DVD release that came out through Fox as part of the Fox Horror Classics Collection Volume 2 is included on this disc as well. It’s worth listening through if you haven’t heard it before as it does a fine job of detailing the history of the film, its source material and the cast and crew that brought the film to the big screen.

    Carried over from that same disc is the sixteen-minute featurette A House Of Secrets: Exploring Dragonwyck, which looks into the origin of the film and its source material. Twilight Time has also included two excellent Biography episode documentaries on the disc, Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait and Vincent Price: The Versatile Villain, both of which run just over forty-four-minutes in length and do a fine job of exploring the backstories of their respective subjects.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, two vintage radio show versions of Dragonwyk (running an hour and a half hour respectively) and an isolated score option as well as menus and chapter selection. Included inside the keepcase alongside the disc is an insert booklet containing liner notes from Twilight Time’s resident scribe Julie Kirgo.

    The Final Word:

    Dragonwyck isn’t quite the horror picture that some might make it out to be but it is still quite tense and involving. Tierney and Price are both excellent and the film’s art direction nothing short of impressive. The Blu-ray release from Twilight Time looks and sounds quite good, carries over all of the extras from the older Fox DVD release and throws in some new ones too – recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!