From Gothic Thriller to Art Film

The Burning Court was directed by Julien Duvivier

Another fun website that reviews and analyzes genre films is Braineater, created and maintained by Will Laughlin. In this installment he reviews the French film La Chambre ardente (1962), “a movie that sits somewhere between an art film and a Gothic thriller,” directed by Julien Duvivier, based on a classic novel by the American author John Dickson Carr. 

Here’s an excerpt from Laughlin’s review:

Carr, after a slow start in the late 1920’s, came into his own in the early 1930’s. He was soon recognized as one of the finest mystery writers of the so-called Golden Age. In 1937, he published what many consider his greatest novel, The Burning Court. However, his work — while always professional — was sometimes uneven; and after the Second World War, his career began to falter. A new generation had come to maturity, and they considered Carr and the writers of the Golden Age too old fashioned, too academic… a remnant of the old order that had been destroyed by the war. Nevertheless, Carr continued to write Golden Age-style detective stories well into the late 60’s and early 70’s. Though there have been periodic revivals of his work, and though he has always had supporters in fellow writers like Kingsley Amis and Anthony Boucher, Carr has never recaptured the recognition his admirers consider he deserves. If you think about it, there’s an obvious reason Duvivier chose to turn The Burning Court into La Chambre ardente

John Dickson Carr

Author John Dickson Carr

Julien Duvivier

Director Julien Duvivier







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Charles Wadsworth Camp at the Movies

In my previous discussion of Charles Wadsworth Camp, I mentioned that several of Camp’s books later became films. I hope to track down all the movies and watch them, if possible. Last night I watched the very entertaining silent murder mystery, The Last Warning (1929, Universal Pictures). Based on Camp’s novel, The House of Fear (1916, Doubleday), this was the last picture directed by the gifted Paul Leni, known by film buffs for directing the classic old-dark-house movie, The Cat and the Canary (1927, Universal). Unfortunately, Leni died of blood poisoning at the age of 44, the same year Universal Pictures released The Last Warning.

In 1922, actor/playwright Thomas F. Fallon wrote a stage play based on The House of Fear but changed the named to The Last Warning. Alfred A. Cohn wrote the screenplay for the 1929 film, also called The Last Warning. Another movie version of the book came out in 1934 using the original book title, The House of Fear, not to be confused with a 1945 Sherlock Holmes movie of the same name.

A list of movies based on stories and novels by Charles Wadsworth Camp can be found at the Internet Movie Data Base

To be continued…