The Other


1h 40m 1972

Brief Synopsis

A boy's evil twin leads him on the path to murder.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
May 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 May 1972; Los Angeles opening: 24 May 1972
Production Company
REM-Benchmark Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Murphys, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Other by Thomas Tryon (New York, 1971).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

In 1935 in the rural Connecticut town of Pequot Landing, twelve-year-old Niles Perry is admiring a large ring on his finger when his mischievous twin brother Holland goads him into sneaking into the home of elderly neighbor Mrs. Rowe. When Holland's attempt to steal some of the old woman's preserves results in a broken jar, Holland escapes, leaving the hapless Niles to take the blame. Upon returning to the Perry farm later, Holland races into the barn while Niles evades queries from his nosy cousin Russell and greets Russell's parents, Aunt Vee and Uncle George, who live with the twins, their widowed mother Alexandra and older sister Torrie, her husband Rider Gannon and Alexandra's Russian-born mother, Ada. Joining Torrie and Rider in the house, Niles happily asks about his sister's pregnancy and declares his conviction that the baby will be a girl. Niles then goes in search of Holland who is sulking in the apple cellar. As Niles again admires his ring, decorated with the family emblem of a peregrine falcon, Holland warns him to be more cautious with it. Handed down from the Perrys' grandfather, the ring went to Holland upon the death of the twins' father a year earlier and Holland later presented it to Niles after their birthday. Just as Niles places the ring inside a Prince Albert tobacco can in which he carries several cherished treasures, Russell appears, demanding to know why Niles is in the off-limits cellar. Niles attempts to mollify his cousin, but Russell declares he will inform the adults, then darts away. Niles then recalls that the cellar has been forbidden since the previous autumn when the cellar door crashed down upon his father and killed him. Up in the barn, Holland, angered by Russell's taunts, kills his cousin's caged pet rat. Distraught, Niles buries the creature in the garden, then spotting his mother on the balcony, rushes to visit her. Emotionally fragile since her husband's untimely death, Alexandra has remained secluded for many months. Niles chats brightly with Alexandra about the books he brings her from the library, but she is startled when the Prince Albert can tumbles from underneath Niles's shirt and several objects fall out. A little later, after Holland goes fishing, Ada joins Niles in the garden and when she inquires why he never plays with Russell, he admits to disliking his cousin. Niles then asks Ada if they can play the game she has taught him, in which he imagines himself becoming an object or animal. Ada selects a crow, and, at her urging, Niles concentrates and imagines himself soaring in the sky as the crow takes flight. As the crow flies over the Perry farm, it circles the barn, where inside Russell repeatedly hurls himself from the loft into a large pile of hay below. Niles abruptly ends his imaginative flight and as he and Ada start back to the house, they hear a terrible shriek as Russell impales himself on a pitchfork propped up in the hay. After Russell's funeral, Niles comes upon farmhand Leno Angelini, who is distraught that his carelessness caused Russell's demise, but Niles assures him it was an accident. Later, alone in the twins' bedroom, Niles opens the Prince Albert can and, unwrapping dark blue tissue paper, stares at a gray, severed finger. A few days later at the local carnival, Holland and Niles sneak into the tent housing the freak show and later, despite Holland's ridicule, Niles watches the performance of Chinese magician Chan-yu and his vanishing box. Niles concentrates on the magician's lacquered cabinet in which his assistant binds and locks him and realizes there is a trap door under the box that allows the magician to escape. That evening Niles relates to Ada that he was able to perform "the game" at the carnival to figure out the magician's trick, but his grandmother reminds him that the game is only imaginary and that he must live real life. Ada then tells Niles that he must apologize to Mrs. Rowe and Niles assures her that he will tell Holland. The next day, Holland, dressed in a magician's cape and top hat, visits Mrs. Rowe to apologize and present her with a jar of preserves. The elderly woman invites the boy inside where he offers to demonstrate a magic trick for her. Doffing his hat, Holland pulls out a white rat that sends Mrs. Rowe into hysterics. That afternoon, Niles joins Ada at the local church, where he asks her why people die. Ada explains that death is part of life's cycle and relates that as a child she was afraid of death until her grandfather told her to find an angel that would provide her comfort and vanquish her fears. Upon returning home, Niles is delighted to see Alexandra outside and confides that he wants to put on a magic show. Later, after joining Holland by the pond, Niles tells him about the comforting angel Ada described to him, but Holland mocks him. The twins then gather cattails with which to decorate the apple cellar floor, but are angered when, returning to the barn, they discover the back entrance to the cellar padlocked. Outside, Niles accompanies Ada to pay a call on Mrs. Rowe, but when they reach the house and receive no answer to the doorbell, Ada peers in the window and sees Mrs. Rowe's dead body. Niles hurries back to the Perry house to have someone call the constable, then wanders upstairs where he surprises Alexandra in the twins' bedroom. Scurrying away clutching the ring and blue tissue, Alexandra locks herself in her room. Holland joins Niles, cursing viciously over their mother's discovery of the Prince Albert can and demands that Niles recover the ring and the tissue. That night, Niles sees Alexandra in the garden and when she collapses weeping against the sealed-up well, he rushes to her aid. After leading her back to the balcony, Niles pries open his mother's hand and takes the ring. Alexandra asks him how he got the ring as it was supposed to be buried, but Niles insists that Holland gave him the ring in the parlor. When Alexandra then holds up the severed finger and asks if Holland gave him that as well, Holland darts out of the shadows, insisting the blue tissue is his. In the ensuing struggle, Alexandra falls down the stairs. As a result of her fall, Alexandra, now paralyzed and unable to speak, is confined to a wheelchair. Holland remains cavalier about his mother's condition, while Niles is deeply troubled. A few days later, Ada finds Niles at the church, gazing in rapture at the stained glass image of an angel. Ada tells Niles that she found Holland's harmonica at Mrs. Rowe's and mentions that the old woman apparently died of fright. When Niles admits that Holland has behaved very badly, Ada angrily demands that he accompany her outside where she drags the protesting boy to a gravestone and insists that he read the marker inscribed with Holland's name that indicates the date that he died was on their last birthday. Remembering that Holland's attempt to hang the family cat in the empty well resulted in his falling in to his death, Niles faints. That night, Ada sits with a feverish Niles and pleads for his forgiveness for having encouraged him into flights of imagination as she could not bear to see him so lonely after Holland's death. Ada then insists that Niles never play "the game" again and he reluctantly agrees. After Ada retires, Holland creeps out of the shadows and directs Niles to the parlor where Niles remembers Holland lying in his casket instructing him to take the ring from his finger. Unable to pull the ring from his brother's swollen hand, Niles follows Holland's suggestion to cut off the finger with rose shears. When Niles reveals that he can no longer play "the game," Holland warns him that if he does not, he will truly be alone. A few days later, Torrie and Rider return from the hospital with their new baby girl, while Niles reads to the silent Alexandra. Later in the barn, preparing for the magic show, Niles hears noises and finds Angelini drunkenly breaking into a large barrel of wine. Several nights later, Torrie and Rider spend their first evening away from the baby, whom they leave under Aunt Vee's and Ada's care. Later that night, a violent thunderstorm breaks out, wakening Niles who rushes to the nursery to discover the baby missing. The police are summoned and amidst the uproar, Ada notices Niles heading to the barn and follows. There she overhears him calling to Holland, demanding to know what he has done with the baby. Horrified, Ada asks him what he means and Niles confesses that Holland has been responsible for all the terrible events, from setting the pitchfork up to kill Russell, to frightening Mrs. Rowe, to pushing Alexandra down the stairs and even killing their father to get the ring. When Niles resumes calling Holland, Ada grabs him and demands that he acknowledge that Holland is dead. Rejecting his grandmother, Niles heads for the apple cellar while calling for his brother. Ada returns to the main house where the baby's body is discovered floating in the full wine barrel. Stricken, Ada returns to the barn and hearing Niles in the apple cellar, pours kerosene across the floor. As Niles listens, confused, Holland whispers taunts in his ear, asking him if he knows who he really is. Seeing a light in the doorway above him, Niles looks up, imagining the face of the stained glass angel, but it is Ada, holding a burning kerosene lamp as she plunges down the stairs onto the kerosene-soaked floor, igniting a conflagration. A few days later, the charred barn is razed and the workers fail to notice the remains of the back door, its lock cut. In the house, Niles peers out the window watching, until his aunt calls him to lunch.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
May 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 May 1972; Los Angeles opening: 24 May 1972
Production Company
REM-Benchmark Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Murphys, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Other by Thomas Tryon (New York, 1971).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

The Other


The Other (1972), a literate, handsomely crafted, better-than-average horror movie produced and written by Tom Tryon and directed by Robert Mulligan, arose from The Other career - writing - pursued by Tryon after it became apparent that a dark cloud might be hovering over his acting career. After enjoying success mostly on TV series, Tryon thought his breakthrough film would be 1962's Something's Got to Give, when he was cast as the man stranded on a desert island opposite Marilyn Monroe. But in the last year of her life, unable to summon the energy to film it, she was fired, he was, too, and the film was shelved, then remade in 1963 with Doris Day, James Garner and Chuck Connors as Move Over, Darling. By 1963, Tryon thought he was onto something bigger: the title role in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal. But the film flopped, Tryon found Preminger's abusive ways enervating, and he began to rethink his career path.

When Tryon saw Rosemary's Baby (1968), Roman Polanski's horror classic based on Ira Levin's novel, it must have seemed heaven-sent. Yale grad and Connecticut native Tryon attacked his typewriter like a man possessed and produced his own horror novel, The Other. Set in rural Connecticut in 1935, it's centered on nine-year-old twin brothers Niles and Holland Perry, who, beneath their tow-headed friskiness, seem magnets for evil as corpses pile up around them. It was a best-seller and Tryon lost no time in adapting and producing the film version. One of his first hires was Mulligan, who himself having just completed Summer of '42 (1971) and famed for his classic film of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), was the go-to guy when it came to rich evocations of American period locales, of which this is one, avoiding cliched dark corners, drenching most of its evil in bright sunlight from the opening moment.

Niles, the milder of the brothers (Chris Udvarnoky), is seen alone in a weedy, dappled grove of trees, contemplating a ring with the family crest, a falcon (Perry = Peregrine), against a sonic backdrop of voracious insect screeches. Summoned by Holland (Martin Udvarnoky, Chris's real-life twin), he splashes through a stream back to the substantial farmhouse, with its barn and outbuildings, where the multi-generational Perry family lives. The boys have somewhat had the run of the place since the recent death of their father, who died when a heavy trap door fell on his head as he was carrying a loaded bushel basket into the barn basement. Their fragile mother (Diana Muldaur), dressed in white and looking emptied-out, like her own ghost, has drifted into a state of mostly vacant withdrawal since his death. The only one who fully interacts with them is their Russian-born grandmother, Ada, played by the great stage actress Uta Hagen, making her film debut here at age 53 after being in the profession since 1937.

Ada is their link to the supernatural. Not that she's witchy. Far from it, she's loving, sternly moralistic, very much rooted in the here and now. But she's open to folklore and nature and experiences in ways like none of the others. For example, she teaches Niles to imagine himself into the spirit of a crow, and the camera -- potently wielded by the great Robert Surtees - giddily whirls us over the terrain in soaring bird's-eye views and angles, giving us new perspectives on what we see at ground level, doing literally what the film does metaphorically, tightening the screws as a good horror movie should, via ever so subtle dislocations of the ordinary until we know something is off. The motif of differentness is brought to a symbolic boil when the boys sneak backstage into a tentful of traveling carnival freaks. It's this momentary interface with what to them is the genuinely sinister that scares them, unlike the cheesy magician's escape from a seemingly locked box the boys discover has been placed over a trap door.

Parallels from the carnival episode keep resurfacing as magic acts, trap doors and escape hatches figure in an escalating number of deaths - the boys' bratty cousin who threatens to tell on them dies when he jumps from a hayloft onto a concealed pitchfork, a neighbor lady is frightened into a heart attack by a strategically wielded rat, and when we see that in this era of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, a picture of accused kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann is hanging on the boys' bedroom wall, we feel dread, especially after their older sister and her husband bring their new baby to the house. It won't be long, we know, before flivvers filled with armed deputies are rattling up and down dirt roads in a rainstorm as high winds spin the falcon weathervane around like a propeller. Sure enough, Niles, the dreamier and more ethereal looking of the brothers, tells his grandmother he's afraid of Holland, and her face grows heavy with foreboding.

There are times when The Other's taste and restraint may be a bit too prominent, times when scarier and more primal would have been a better choice. The ending, with its crescendo of evil and devastation, could have, for one of the few times in genre history, drawn out the tension more excruciatingly. Tryon's screenplay seems at the end too efficient, even a bit truncated in its impact. Still, as a piece of professional reinvention, it's a success. The Other is never so muted that you fail to appreciate the creepy grip of this or that sinister detail tendrilling its way around a scene. Its hints of terrible things about to happen with worse to come, and its glossy production values make The Other a solid, intriguing outing even if it does come up a bit short on creepiness. Connecticut native Tryon (1926-1991) said, after several more novels and movie versions of them, that writing brought him more satisfaction, and certainly more money, than acting ever did.

Producer: Robert Mulligan
Director: Robert Mulligan
Screenplay: Thomas Tryon (screenplay and novel)
Cinematography: Robert L. Surtees
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Film Editing: Folmar Blangsted, O. Nicholas Brown
Cast: Uta Hagen (Ada), Diana Muldaur (Alexandra), Chris Udvarnoky (Niles Perry), Martin Udvarnoky (Holland Perry), Norma Connolly (Aunt Vee), Victor French (Angelini), Loretta Leversee (Winnie), Lou Frizzell (Uncle George), Portia Nelson (Mrs. Rowe), Jenny Sullivan (Torrie).
C-108m.

by Jay Carr
The Other

The Other

The Other (1972), a literate, handsomely crafted, better-than-average horror movie produced and written by Tom Tryon and directed by Robert Mulligan, arose from The Other career - writing - pursued by Tryon after it became apparent that a dark cloud might be hovering over his acting career. After enjoying success mostly on TV series, Tryon thought his breakthrough film would be 1962's Something's Got to Give, when he was cast as the man stranded on a desert island opposite Marilyn Monroe. But in the last year of her life, unable to summon the energy to film it, she was fired, he was, too, and the film was shelved, then remade in 1963 with Doris Day, James Garner and Chuck Connors as Move Over, Darling. By 1963, Tryon thought he was onto something bigger: the title role in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal. But the film flopped, Tryon found Preminger's abusive ways enervating, and he began to rethink his career path. When Tryon saw Rosemary's Baby (1968), Roman Polanski's horror classic based on Ira Levin's novel, it must have seemed heaven-sent. Yale grad and Connecticut native Tryon attacked his typewriter like a man possessed and produced his own horror novel, The Other. Set in rural Connecticut in 1935, it's centered on nine-year-old twin brothers Niles and Holland Perry, who, beneath their tow-headed friskiness, seem magnets for evil as corpses pile up around them. It was a best-seller and Tryon lost no time in adapting and producing the film version. One of his first hires was Mulligan, who himself having just completed Summer of '42 (1971) and famed for his classic film of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), was the go-to guy when it came to rich evocations of American period locales, of which this is one, avoiding cliched dark corners, drenching most of its evil in bright sunlight from the opening moment. Niles, the milder of the brothers (Chris Udvarnoky), is seen alone in a weedy, dappled grove of trees, contemplating a ring with the family crest, a falcon (Perry = Peregrine), against a sonic backdrop of voracious insect screeches. Summoned by Holland (Martin Udvarnoky, Chris's real-life twin), he splashes through a stream back to the substantial farmhouse, with its barn and outbuildings, where the multi-generational Perry family lives. The boys have somewhat had the run of the place since the recent death of their father, who died when a heavy trap door fell on his head as he was carrying a loaded bushel basket into the barn basement. Their fragile mother (Diana Muldaur), dressed in white and looking emptied-out, like her own ghost, has drifted into a state of mostly vacant withdrawal since his death. The only one who fully interacts with them is their Russian-born grandmother, Ada, played by the great stage actress Uta Hagen, making her film debut here at age 53 after being in the profession since 1937. Ada is their link to the supernatural. Not that she's witchy. Far from it, she's loving, sternly moralistic, very much rooted in the here and now. But she's open to folklore and nature and experiences in ways like none of the others. For example, she teaches Niles to imagine himself into the spirit of a crow, and the camera -- potently wielded by the great Robert Surtees - giddily whirls us over the terrain in soaring bird's-eye views and angles, giving us new perspectives on what we see at ground level, doing literally what the film does metaphorically, tightening the screws as a good horror movie should, via ever so subtle dislocations of the ordinary until we know something is off. The motif of differentness is brought to a symbolic boil when the boys sneak backstage into a tentful of traveling carnival freaks. It's this momentary interface with what to them is the genuinely sinister that scares them, unlike the cheesy magician's escape from a seemingly locked box the boys discover has been placed over a trap door. Parallels from the carnival episode keep resurfacing as magic acts, trap doors and escape hatches figure in an escalating number of deaths - the boys' bratty cousin who threatens to tell on them dies when he jumps from a hayloft onto a concealed pitchfork, a neighbor lady is frightened into a heart attack by a strategically wielded rat, and when we see that in this era of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, a picture of accused kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann is hanging on the boys' bedroom wall, we feel dread, especially after their older sister and her husband bring their new baby to the house. It won't be long, we know, before flivvers filled with armed deputies are rattling up and down dirt roads in a rainstorm as high winds spin the falcon weathervane around like a propeller. Sure enough, Niles, the dreamier and more ethereal looking of the brothers, tells his grandmother he's afraid of Holland, and her face grows heavy with foreboding. There are times when The Other's taste and restraint may be a bit too prominent, times when scarier and more primal would have been a better choice. The ending, with its crescendo of evil and devastation, could have, for one of the few times in genre history, drawn out the tension more excruciatingly. Tryon's screenplay seems at the end too efficient, even a bit truncated in its impact. Still, as a piece of professional reinvention, it's a success. The Other is never so muted that you fail to appreciate the creepy grip of this or that sinister detail tendrilling its way around a scene. Its hints of terrible things about to happen with worse to come, and its glossy production values make The Other a solid, intriguing outing even if it does come up a bit short on creepiness. Connecticut native Tryon (1926-1991) said, after several more novels and movie versions of them, that writing brought him more satisfaction, and certainly more money, than acting ever did. Producer: Robert Mulligan Director: Robert Mulligan Screenplay: Thomas Tryon (screenplay and novel) Cinematography: Robert L. Surtees Music: Jerry Goldsmith Film Editing: Folmar Blangsted, O. Nicholas Brown Cast: Uta Hagen (Ada), Diana Muldaur (Alexandra), Chris Udvarnoky (Niles Perry), Martin Udvarnoky (Holland Perry), Norma Connolly (Aunt Vee), Victor French (Angelini), Loretta Leversee (Winnie), Lou Frizzell (Uncle George), Portia Nelson (Mrs. Rowe), Jenny Sullivan (Torrie). C-108m. by Jay Carr

Quotes

And when I came here and found this church, this angel became for me, The Angel of the Brighter Day, you see?
- Ada
Do you still believe she will come?
- Niles
Yes.
- Ada
Will the angel come for me when I die?
- Niles
If you believe, then surely she will.
- Ada
He went over like you said and...apologized.
- Niles Perry
He's bad. He'll never go to heaven!
- Niles Perry
Niles, where is the baby?
- Ada
Holland's got the baby. He put the pain pills in your tea. He's bad. He'll never go to heaven!
- Niles Perry
Holland, where is the baby?
- Niles Perry

Trivia

As the film needed to take place during summer, the small town of Murphys, California, was substituted for shooting instead of on location in Connecticut.

In post-poduction, editing done to the film caused over half of Jerry Goldsmith's music to be left out. The soundtrack was finally available in 1997 along with "The Mephisto Waltz (1971)."

Notes

According to an October 1970 Daily Variety news item, Thomas Tryon (1926-1991), author of The Other, had retained film rights to the novel, along with business partner Ed Dukoff. In March 1971 Daily Variety announced that Tryon and Dukoff had joined with Richard Mulligan to produce the film, but there is no further mention of Dukoff's involvement in the production. The Other marked the feature film debut of noted stage actress Uta Hagen (1918-2004). The film also marked the only motion picture appearance of identical twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, who appeared, respectively, as "Niles" and "Holland Perry." The Other was shot on location in Murphys, CA, according to contemporary sources. Modern sources add Carolyn Stellar to the cast.
       The Other was the first novel by actor-writer Tryon, who, as "Tom Tryon" appeared in numerous films such as the 1963 Columbia release, The Cardinal and Paramount's 1965 In Harm's Way, both directed by Otto Preminger. Modern sources indicate that after Tryon watched the 1968 Paramount release of Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby he was inspired to write his own horror novel. After The Other became a best seller, Tryon withdrew from acting and continued his career as a successful novelist.
       The novel open and closes with first person narration from an adult "Niles," who relates the events of his childhood that placed him in what only gradually becomes apparent to the reader is a mental institution. Although Niles makes observations sporadically throughout the book, the main plot is told in the third-person. The novel ends with Niles complaining that people will not call him by his real name, which he insists is "Holland," demonstrating his complete personality disintegration. The film only suggests Niles' identification trauma when Holland asks him if he knows who he is just as "Ada" attempts to kill him.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States on Video May 18, 1989

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States on Video May 18, 1989