|The Dark Eyes of London|
|Directed by||Walter Summers|
|Written by|| John Argyle |
Jan Van Lusil
|Based on|| The Dark Eyes of London |
by Edgar Wallace
|Produced by||John Argyle|
|Starring|| Béla Lugosi |
|Edited by||Ted Richards|
|Music by||Guy Jones|
The Dark Eyes of London is a 1939 British horror film produced by John Argyle and directed by Walter Summers, and starring Béla Lugosi, Hugh Williams, and Greta Gynt. The film is an adaptation of the 1924 novel of the same name by Edgar Wallace. The film is about a scientist named Dr. Orloff who commits a series of murders for insurance money, while periodically disguising himself as the blind manager of a charity to further his scheme.
It was released in November 1939 in Britain, where it became the first British film to receive the "H" rating meaning "Horrific for Public Exhibition" (persons aged 16 or above will only be admitted). It was released in the United States in 1940 by Monogram Pictures under the title The Human Monster.
In London, Dr. Orloff (Bela Lugosi) runs a life insurance agency where he loans money on his customers' policies. Scotland Yard begins finding bodies in the Thames River, all of them insured by Orloff with the Dearborn Home for the Blind as their sole beneficiary. This charity Home, which Orloff sponsors and serves as its medical advisor, is located in a dilapidated former warehouse abutting the Thames.
One of the dead men has a daughter named Diane (Greta Gynt) for whom Orloff obtains employment at the Home as seeing-person secretary to the soft-spoken, also blind, Dearborn. Suspicions begin to arise surrounding Dearborn and Orloff in relation to the dead bodies, and it becomes clear to the audience that Dearborn is really Orloff, disguising both his face and voice.
After Diane finds one of her father's cufflinks at the Home, Orloff sends his henchman Jake (Wilfred Walter), a deformed blind resident of the Home, to kill Diane who has found out too much about them but she eludes him with the help of the young police inspector on the case. Confronted by Diane, Dearborn removes his disguise to show himself as Orloff.
He carries her to the warehouse's loft, where he has been killing his victims by dumping them into a vat of river water charged with electricity. He puts her in a strait-jacket and calls for Jake to finish the job of killing her in like manner. Jake refuses as he has found out that Orloff has sadistically deafened his one friend, also blind, before killing him. Jake turns on Orloff, Orloff shoots Jake, but Jake perseveres, captures Orloff and throws him out of a loading door, to sink into the river mud-flats below. The inspector breaks in and frees Diane as Jake dies of his wounds.
Production began on The Dark Eyes of London in 1938.Actor Bela Lugosi sailed to England to star in the film's dual role of Dr. Orloff and Professor Dearborn (the original novel has two Orloff characters but the film's script combined them into one). When portraying the role of Dearborn, Lugosi's voice is dubbed by O. B. Clarence. It was made at Welwyn Studios with sets designed by the art director Duncan Sutherland. The day after Lugosi arrived on set, shooting began and lasted 11 days. Production ended on the film in 1939.
The final scene involving Orloff's demise was difficult to film. A seven-foot-deep tank was filled with a concoction to resemble river mud. A member of the crew was lowered into the mess with a chain that allowed him to escape easily if he were sucked under. It is intercut with a shot of Lugosi's head sinking, but Lugosi did not submerge. Weights had to be tied to Lugosi's ankles to keep his body sunk.
The film was released in the United Kingdom in October 1939.In the United Kingdom, The Dark Eyes of London was the first British film to receive the 'H' rating and the last British horror film to receive the rating. The "H" rating was introduced in 1933 by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) for films labelled "Horrific" for "any films likely to frighten or horrify children under the age of 16 years"
The Dark Eyes of London was released in the United States under the title The Human Monster by Monogram Pictures in March 1940
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó, known professionally as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarian–American actor, best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 horror classic Dracula, Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and his roles in many other horror films from 1931 through 1956.
Mark of the Vampire is a 1935 American horror film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt, and directed by Tod Browning. It has been described as a talkie remake of Browning's silent London After Midnight (1927), though it does not credit the older film or its writers.
Invisible Ghost is a 1941 American horror film directed by Joseph H. Lewis, produced by Sam Katzman and starring Bela Lugosi.
The Ape Man is a 1943 American horror film directed by William Beaudine. The film is based on "They Creep in the Dark" by Karl Brown, which was published in The Saturday Evening Post. It stars Bela Lugosi as Dr. James Brewster who is aided by his colleague Dr. Randall. The doctor manages to transform himself into a ape man hybrid and desperately seeks a cure. Brewster believes that only the injection of human spinal fluid will prove effective as a cure. As Randall refuses to help him, Brewster and his captive gorilla seek involuntary donors.
Bowery at Midnight is a 1942 American Monogram Pictures horror film directed by Wallace Fox and starring Bela Lugosi and John Archer. The film was re-released by Astor Pictures in 1949.
Carroll Borland better known by the stage-spelling Carol Borland, was an American professor, writer, and actress. She is best known for having portrayed Luna, the daughter of Bela Lugosi's character, Count Mora, in Mark of the Vampire, and for creating the iconic look of the female vampire with her waist-length dark hair and Adrian-designed shroud in this film.
Room for Two is a 1940 British comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Frances Day, Vic Oliver and Greta Gynt. The film was written by Gilbert Wakefield, based on his 1938 stage farce. The film's Italian setting was overtaken by events, as by the time of its release Fascist Italy had entered the Second World War against Britain.
Greta Gynt was a Norwegian dancer and actress. She is remembered for her starring roles in the British classic films The Dark Eyes of London, Mr. Emmanuel, Take My Life, Dear Murderer and The Ringer.
The Silent Command is a 1923 American silent drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards featuring Bela Lugosi as a foreign saboteur in his American film debut. The film, written by Anthony Paul Kelly and Rufus King, also stars Edmund Lowe, Alma Tell, and Martha Mansfield. The film depicts the story of Benedict Hisston (Lugosi), who is part of a plot to destroy the Panama Canal. Initially unable to obtain necessarily intelligence from Richard Decatur (Lowe), a captain in the United States Navy, he enlists the aid of femme fatale Peg Williams (Mansfield). Decatur pretends to be seduced into the conspiracy, costing him his career and estranging him from his wife (Tell), but he ultimately betrays the saboteurs in Panama and stops their plan. He returns home to the Navy and his wife, and to popular acclaim for his heroics.
The Dead Eyes of London is a 1961 West German black and white crime film directed by Alfred Vohrer and starring Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Baal and Dieter Borsche.
Lock Up Your Daughters is a 1959 horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Due to the lack of information on its production and release, it is uncertain whether it is a lost film or if it ever existed.
Wilfred Walter was an English film and theatre actor, sometimes credited as Wilfrid Walter. He was born Franz Wilfrid Walter, son of the actor Richard Walter.
The Dark Eyes Of London is a crime novel by the British writer Edgar Wallace which was first published in 1924. An unbalanced doctor and his brother murder a series of wealthy men to benefit from their life insurance policies, using a charity for the blind as a front for their activities. The persistent Inspector Holt of Scotland Yard is soon on their trail. It was based on an earlier short story The Croakers which Wallace had written.
Boys Will Be Girls is a 1937 British comedy film directed by Gilbert Pratt and starring Leslie Fuller, Nellie Wallace and Greta Gynt. The film was made by Fuller's own independent production company in the Rock Studios at Elstree. In order to gain his inheritance, a man has to give up drinking and smoking.
British horror cinema is a sub-category of horror films made by British studios. Horror films began in Britain with silent films in the early 20th century. Some of the most successful British horror films were made by Hammer Film Productions around the 1960s. A distinguishing feature of British horror cinema from its foundations in the 1910s until the end of Hammer's prolific output in the genre in the 1970s was storylines based on, or referring to, the gothic literature of the 19th century.
The Last Barricade is a 1938 British drama film directed by Alex Bryce and starring Frank Fox, Greta Gynt and Meinhart Maur. It was produced by the British subsidiary of 20th Century Fox at the company's Wembley Studios in London for release as a Quota Quickie. The film's sets were designed by the art director Carmen Dillon.
The history of horror films is one that was described by author Siegbert Solomon Prawer as difficult to read as a linear historical path, with the genre changing throughout the decades, based on the state of cinema, audience tastes and contemporary world events.