Dragonwyck (film)

Dragonwyck is a 1946 American period drama film made by Twentieth Century-Fox.[3][4] It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and Ernst Lubitsch (uncredited), from a screenplay by Mankiewicz, based on the novel Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. The music score was by Alfred Newman, and the cinematography by Arthur C. Miller. The film stars Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, and Vincent Price.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck
Ernst Lubitsch
Written byJoseph L. Mankiewicz
Based onDragonwyck
(1944 novel)
by Anya Seton
StarringGene Tierney
Walter Huston
Vincent Price
Glenn Langan
Anne Revere
Spring Byington
Harry Morgan
Jessica Tandy
Music byAlfred Newman
CinematographyArthur C. Miller
Edited byDorothy Spencer
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox
Release date
  • April 10, 1946 (1946-04-10)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3 million (US rentals)[1][2]

Plot summary

Raised in 1844 Greenwich, Connecticut by her strait-laced low church parents, Ephraim (Walter Huston) and Abigail (Anne Revere), Miranda Wells (Gene Tierney) is a farm girl who often daydreams of a more romantic and luxurious life outside the farm. Miranda gets her opportunity when her mother receives a letter from their distant cousin Nicholas Van Ryn (Vincent Price), a wealthy Patroon in Hudson, New York. Miranda manages to convince her parents to let her go to Nicholas's estate of Dragonwyck manor as companion to his eight-year-old daughter Katrine (Connie Marshall). Over time, Miranda learns that Nicholas and his wife Johanna are estranged from each other and from their daughter. She also hears from the servants that the Van Ryn bloodline is cursed as only they can hear the harpsichord played by the ghost of Nicholas's great-grandmother Azilde whenever misfortune befalls the family.

Meeting an Anti-Rent supporter named Dr. Jeff Turner while secretly attending the tenant farmers' Kermesse with Katrine, Miranda witnesses Nicholas evicting a discontented farmer named Klaas Bleecker for refusing to participate in the annual rent-paying ceremony. A few days later, Klaas is accused of murder with Nicholas ungraciously agreeing to Turner's request for the farmer to have a fair trial while insisting the doctor to inspect an ailing Johanna. While Johanna is diagnosed with a simple cold, she suddenly dies later of acute gastritis from eating cake.

Nicholas later confesses to Miranda that he was unhappy with his wife for not bearing him a son as the result of her infertility following Katrine's birth, admitting his romantic feelings for Miranda. Miranda returns the sentiment, but returns to Greenwich to put some distance between them. Two months later, Nicholas arrives and asks for her hand in marriage. Ephraim and Abigail reluctantly consent, and Miranda becomes pregnant not long after the wedding. Nicholas is thrilled by the news despite the friction with Miranda due to his atheistic outlook and abusive behavior along with being pressured by the established Anti-Rent laws. But when the baby is revealed to have a defective heart and dies soon after his birth, a heartbroken and embittered Nicholas completely shuts himself from Miranda while becoming a drug addict. Peggy O'Malley, a loyal maid Miranda hired, fears for Miranda's life and turns to Turner for help.

Turner arrives as Nicholas suffers a breakdown from hearing Azilde's harpsichord being played, having deduced that Nicholas poisoned Johanna with an Oleander-based poison sprinkled in her food. Turner then knocks Nicholas out in self-defense after accusing him of attempting to murder Miranda, with him and Peggy taking Miranda away for her safety. An increasingly unstable Nicholas grabs a pistol and goes to the Kermesse grounds where he acts out before Turner and Miranda arrive with the tenant farmers, the mayor, and the sheriff to arrest him. But Nicholas is shot and killed when he attempts to kill Turner after refusing to leave his land. Soon after, Miranda decides to return to Greenwich with Turner seeing her off while promising to visit her soon.[5]


Production notes

  • Gregory Peck was the first choice for Nicholas Van Ryn. Ernst Lubitsch was to direct, but became ill, pre-production was delayed, and Peck dropped out.


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said: "... Twentieth Century-Fox has fashioned a grand and gloomy mansion as the scene, and has inhabited it with a haughty master of aristocratic Dutch descent. ... Vincent Price gives a picturesque performance as the regal and godless patroon, using his face and his carriage to demonstrate insolence, that's all. Clean shaven and elegantly tailored, he still makes a formidable Bluebeard, and his moments of suave diabolism are about the best in the film. Gene Tierney is fairly ornamental in the role of the tortured child bride, but she plainly creates no more character than the meager script provides. Of the several lesser characters, Walter Huston is most credible as the forthright, God-fearing father of the cardboard heroine." [6]

Adaptations to Other Media

Dragonwyck was adapted as an hour-long radio play on the October 7, 1946, broadcast of Lux Radio Theater, starring Vincent Price and Gene Tierney.[7] It was also dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the January 20, 1947, broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Vincent Price and Teresa Wright.

See also


  1. "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p8
  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 221
  3. Variety film review; February 20, 1946, page 8.
  4. Harrison's Reports film review; February 23, 1946, page 31.
  5. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/73599/Dragonwyck/
  6. Bosley Crowther, "'Dragonwyck', Featuring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price, New Bill at Roxy Theatre - Based on Anya Seton Novel" Apr. 11, 1946 https://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9405EFDF153FE23BBC4952DFB266838D659EDE
  7. "Theatre Date". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 5, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved October 1, 2015 via Newspapers.com.

Streaming audio

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