Isle of the Dead (film)
|Isle of the Dead|
|Directed by||Mark Robson|
|Produced by||Val Lewton|
|Written by||Ardel Wray
Val Lewton (uncredited)
Josef Mischel (uncredited)
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
|Editing by||Lyle Boyer|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Release date(s)||1 September 1945|
|Running time||72 minutes|
Isle of the Dead (1945) is one of producer Val Lewton's horror films made for RKO Radio Pictures. The movie had a script inspired by the painting Isle of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin, which appears behind the title credits, though the film was originally titled "Camilla" during production. (Another of Lewton's films, I Walked With a Zombie, has the painting hung in the main room of the movie.) It was written by frequent Lewton collaborator Ardel Wray; directed by Mark Robson, the fourth of five pictures he directed for Lewton; and starred Boris Karloff, the first of three pictures he made with Lewton (although the second released).
|This section requires expansion. (June 2010)|
The story is set on a Greek isle during the First Balkan War in 1912–1913, when a plague forces a quarantine on the island's visitors. As they die one by one, a young woman is accused of being a vorvolakas, a sort of vampire.
Filming began for about two weeks in July 1944 until production was suspended when Karloff required a back operation. It was completed in December 1944. In the interim, after Karloff had recovered from the surgery but before the cast of Isle of the Dead could be reassembled, he and Lewton made The Body Snatcher. The film had a troubled production, and the central female character of the original script (named "Catherine") was deleted entirely from the tale.
Leigh Harline's somber score makes use of another work inspired by Böcklin's painting, Sergei Rachmaninoff's tone poem, "Isle of the Dead". Harline borrows themes and copies their orchestration, taking about as much as he can without violating copyright. Oddly, he makes no use of the public-domain "Dies Irae".
The film premiered in New York City on 7 September 1945. The cost of Isle of the Dead at completion was $246,000, the highest yet for a Lewton horror film, but with domestic rentals of $266,000, and foreign rentals of $117,000, it made only $13,000 in profit for RKO. It was re-issued in 1953 on a double bill with Mighty Joe Young, and made its television debut in 1959.
- Boris Karloff as Gen. Nikolas Pherides
- Ellen Drew as Thea
- Marc Cramer as Oliver Davis
- Katherine Emery as Mrs. Mary St. Aubyn
- Helen Thimig as Madame Kyra
- Alan Napier as St. Aubyn
- Jason Robards Sr. as Albrecht
- Ernst Deutsch as Dr. Drossos
- Sherry Hall as Col. Kobestes
- Erick Hanson as Officer
- Skelton Knaggs as Andrew Robbins
See also 
- Isle of the Dead at the Internet Movie Database
- Isle of the Dead at the TCM Movie Database
- Isle of the Dead at AllRovi
- Isle of the Dead Movie The Karloff/Lewton film: images, Boecklin paintings, & history.
- Toteninsel.net: an encyclopedia in progress dedicated to A. Böcklin's Isle of the Dead: copies, parodies, inspirations.