Cast & Crew
Edith Murray stands alone in a room in a Scottish castle and recalls the previous year, when she and her niece Kitty were vacationing in Cannes, France: While Kitty and her friend, Richard Roblar, dance in a café, Edith talks with Kitty's fiancé, Gerald McTeam, who reveals that his uncle, Sir Samuel, will not be attending his wedding because he never leaves his Scottish home, Castle Craven. Gerald recalls that when he visited the castle as a boy, he was locked in his room at night, and adds that there was an old-fashioned maze in the garden. Back in the present, Edith relates that Gerald's strange story about the castle worried her even then, because she knew he was next in line to inherit the baronetcy. She then returns to her memories of Cannes: Gerald and Kitty are swimming in the hotel pool when he receives a letter summoning him immediately to Castle Craven. After six weeks, Kitty and Edith read an obituary reporting that Sir Samuel has died. Gerald has communicated neither by telephone nor letter until one day, Edith receives a cryptic letter informing her that he is unable to leave the castle or marry Kitty unless there is a death, and that he therefore releases Kitty from their engagement. Kitty refuses to accept these terms and insists on going to Scotland. Gerald and the servants do not hide their displeasure over Kitty's unexpected visit, and although Gerald is opposed to the women staying at the castle, he agrees to let them spend the night. Kitty and Edith are shocked by how much Gerald has aged in the short time he has been in Scotland, and are also uneasy when they notice that the windows in their rooms have been walled over. That night, the women are locked in their rooms, and Gerald refuses to respond when Kitty demands an explanation. In the middle of the night, Kitty is awakened by the sound of something dragging past her door. Now fully awake, Kitty explores her room and finds a secret stairway to a window, out of which she can see the garden maze. The next day, Kitty demands to remain at the castle while Edith recuperates from a cold, but says nothing about the mysterious webbed prints she has noticed on the stairs outside her door. Kitty becomes convinced that Gerald is ill, but he refuses to consult a physician, so she invites their physician friend, Dr. Bert Dilling, and his wife Margaret to visit, along with Peggy Lord and Robert. Kitty rightly fears that neither William the butler nor Gerald will actually mail her letter to Bert so she manages to give it to a gardener to post. She then wanders through the gate into the beginning of the maze, where she sees the same webbed footprint. She is interrupted by Gerald, who forces her to leave. Kitty and Edith later share their concerns about Gerald's unusual behavior, and Edith's curiosity compels her to slip out of her bedroom before it is locked and go upstairs into the forbidden tower room. There, Edith screams and faints when a man-sized, frog-like beast lumbers into the room. Her screams awaken Kitty and draw Gerald, who carries her back into the bedroom. After she revives, Gerald assures her that she was frightened only by her own imagination. The next morning, Kitty acquiesces to Gerald's demand that she and Edith leave the next day, but to Gerald's dismay, Kitty's high-spirited friends arrive in the afternoon and he reluctantly gives them all rooms. When Gerald reprimands Kitty, she protests that she is trying to help him, but he refuses to acknowledge that he is sick. That evening, Kitty cheerfully dresses for dinner and even Gerald loosens up briefly during their meal until he hears a strange sound from the room above. He then demands that everyone be locked in their rooms. In their bedroom, Bert tells his wife that all the McTeam men have died early and mysteriously, and that there has not been a McTeam wife in 200 years¿-the family line has been kept going by nephews. That night after lock-down, Kitty and Edith slip out of their rooms using a key stolen by Edith. They go into the tower room where they find a book titled Teratology: The Study of Monstrosities, Serious Malformations or Deviations from the Normal Structure in Man . When they hear a sound, the women return to the bedrooms while Gerald and the servants descend the stairway leading something large in a sheet. The women follow them out into the maze but after they are separated, Edith is shocked to see a creature crawl toward her. Edith faints, after which the creature continues past Kitty. The creature is terrified by its encounters and scurries back to the castle. Kitty and Gerald help Edith back inside while William prevents Bert, who has shot his way out of the bedroom, from killing the creature. Despite efforts to calm the creature, it falls out of a window to its death. Some time later, Kitty and Edith prepare to leave the castle, but are summoned to a meeting by William. Gerald has gathered everyone together to explain that the creature was in fact the last Baronet of Craven, Sir Roger Philip McTeam, who was born in 1750. Although McTeam had developed emotionally, he had physically never grown past the amphibious stage of his fetus, and consequently, succeeding nephews had to tend to his care. Gerald reassures the women that McTeam was not trying to harm them. Gerald then admits that his uncle's own secrecy was what led to his death, and he apologizes to Kitty. Back in the present, Edith reports that Kitty and Gerald are married and live happily in the now-modernized castle.
William Cameron Menzies
Allen K. Wood
The film opens with a scene in the Scottish castle during which the servant "William" discovers that his master has died. The scene jumps to a year later, and the character "Edith Murray" addresses the camera, relating that the preceding event led to her experiences at the castle. She then begins her recollections about the previous year. Although the film was shot and released in 3-D, the viewed print was flat. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that The Maze was Allied Artist Productions' first 3-D production. A February 5, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that designs by artist Salvador Dali were to be used for the production, but they were not in the released film. Maurice Sandoz's 1945 novel The Maze, on which the film is based, featured illustrations by Dali. The Variety review noted that the film marked Veronica Hurst's American feature debut.