Behind the Door (film)

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Behind the Door
Newspaper advertisement
Directed byIrvin Willat
Written byLuther Reed (scenario)
Based on"Behind the Door"
by Gouverneur Morris
Produced byThomas H. Ince
StarringHobart Bosworth
Jane Novak
Wallace Beery
CinematographyJ.O. Taylor
Frank M. Blount
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 14, 1919 (1919-12-14)
Running time
70 minutes; 7 reels
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
The skipper had vowed to skin Brandt alive for murdering his wife.

Behind the Door is a surviving 1919 silent war drama film produced by Thomas Ince, directed by Irvin Willat and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The picture is a starring vehicle for veteran actor Hobart Bosworth and the supporting cast features Jane Novak and Wallace Beery. The film's source is a short story by Gouverneur Morris, also titled "Behind the Door," published in McClure's Magazine in July 1917.[1] The film is extant at the Library of Congress and the Gosfilmofond Russian State Archive.[2][3][4][5] In 2016, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, working with the Library of Congress and Godfilmofond, created a more fully-restored print of the film.[6]


In 1925 (set six years after the film's release), the silhouetted figure of Oscar Krug, a seafarer, enters a graveyard above a town in coastal Maine. That morning in town, he enters the abandoned taxidermy shop he once owned. He slumps at his former worktable and is lost in memory. Except for the last scene, the rest of the film's story is an extended flashback.

In 1917, Krug, a German-American taxidermist who had been a sailor in the U.S. Navy is subject to suspicion and resentment by the townspeople. He nonetheless wins the heart of Alice Morse, despite the disapproval of her father, the town banker. When news arrives of the U.S. declaration of war against Germany, the townspeople question Krug's patriotism, even though he was already on the way to enlist. A mass fistfight ensues, with the group's leader, Bill Tavish, finally accepting Krug's devotion to his country. The two men rush off to enlist in the Navy. Krug and Alice are married in secret soon after.

Alice is thrown out by her father when he learns of the marriage, and she manages to stow away on the Navy ship that Krug now commands. The ship's nurse takes her on as an assistant before she reveals her presence to Krug. Krug's ship is sunk by a German U-boat, commanded by Lt. Brandt, who then abducts Alice from the lifeboat that she and Krug shared, with Krug vowing revenge.

Now in command of a new ship, Krug is still haunted by his hatred. His ship sinks a U-boat that turns out to have been commanded by Brandt. To his crew's bewilderment, Krug welcomes Brandt to his cabin, speaking German and getting him drunk. Not knowing Krug's identity, Brandt brags about how Alice was sexually abused and died. Krug then reveals himself and binds Brandt behind a closet door. When Krug's first officers enter the cabin, they are horrified to discover that Krug, with his taxidermy tools, had skinned Brandt alive.

In the final scene, set again in the film's present, Krug collapses at his worktable and dies. His spirit is greeted by that of Alice, and the two are united again in death.


Still from the Behind the Door with German U-boat commander Lieutenant Brandt (portrayed by Wallace Beery) being throttled by American Merchant Marine Captain Oscar Krug (Hobart Bosworth).

Home media release[edit]

Flicker Alley has released a Blu-ray/DVD restored edition on April 4, 2017.


  1. ^ "Standard Index of Short Stories, 1900-1933". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  2. ^ Progressive Silent Film List: Behind the Door at
  3. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1911-20 by The American Film Institute, c.1988
  4. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress page 14 by The American Film Institute, c. 1978
  5. ^ The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: Behind the Door
  6. ^ Wanamaker, Marc. "The History behind Behind the Door". Flicker Alley. Archived from the original on 2018-03-11. Retrieved November 5, 2020.

External links[edit]