The House of Fear


1h 7m 1939

Brief Synopsis

A detective goes undercover as a producer to investigate an actor's murder, which occurred during the performance of a play. The actor's body disappeared shortly after the crime, and his ghost is rumored to be haunting the theater.

Film Details

Also Known As
Backstage Phantom
Release Date
Jun 30, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Crime Club Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The House of Fear by Wadsworth Camp (New York, 1916) and the play The Last Warning by Thomas F. Fallon (New York, 24 Oct 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

The murder of actor John Woodford during the performance of a Broadway play closes the house when reports begin to circulate that Woodford's ghost haunts the theater. To solve the mystery, police detective Arthur McHugh poses as a producer and reopens the theater to present the play. His hunch that the real murderer will reappear proves correct when Carleton, the actor playing Woodford's part, is murdered during rehearsal. As the company is besieged by a barrage of death threats from the ghost of Woodford, McHugh coerces Richard Pierce, an actor he suspects of the crimes, into playing the dead man's part, which requires him to stand in front of a microphone where the other two murders have taken place. On opening night, McHugh discovers a cable lead that leads to a poisoned needle in the microphone, and captures the masked murderer as he is poised to shoot the lethal missle. The murderer confesses that he is in the employ of Robert Morton, the brother of domineering theater owner Joseph Morton, and McHugh expounds that the murders were part of Robert's scheme to lower the value of the theater and thus insure him profits on a crooked real estate deal, which would enable him to marry the fortune-hunting actress, Gloria DeVere. Gloria then reveals that she is actually McHugh's wife, who has been helping her husband with the investigation by posing as one of the cast members. With Morton's arrest, Woodford's "ghost" is laid to rest and the case is solved.

Film Details

Also Known As
Backstage Phantom
Release Date
Jun 30, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Crime Club Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The House of Fear by Wadsworth Camp (New York, 1916) and the play The Last Warning by Thomas F. Fallon (New York, 24 Oct 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Backstage Phantom. Universal produced two other films based on Thomas F. Fallon's play. In 1929, Paul Leni directed Laura La Plante and Montague Love in The Last Warning (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.2987.) In 1938, Universal produced The Last Warning also based on the play (see below). For additional information about the series, see entry for The Westland Case (below) and consult the Series Index.