The Cabinet of Caligari

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The Cabinet of Caligari
Directed by Roger Kay
Produced by Roger Kay
Written by Robert Bloch
Starring Glynis Johns
Dan O'Herlihy
Richard Davalos
Lawrence Dobkin
Estelle Winwood
Constance Ford
Music by Gerald Fried
Cinematography John L. Russell
Edited by Archie Marshek
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Associated Producers Inc
Release date
25 May 1962
Running time
105 min.
Country U.S.
Language English

The Cabinet of Caligari (1962) is a horror film by Roger Kay, starring Glynis Johns, Dan O'Herlihy, and Richard Davalos, and released by 20th Century Fox.

Although the film has a title that is very similar to that of the acclaimed silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), it shares very few similarities, except for the main plot twist. The film is notable for a script penned by author Robert Bloch, author of the novel Psycho. The cinematographer for The Cabinet of Caligari was John L. Russell, who also worked on Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho (1960) based on Bloch's novel.

In 1960, independent Hollywood producer Robert Lippert acquired the rights to Caligari from Matray and Universum Film AG for $50,000, and produced a film called The Cabinet of Caligari, which was released in 1962. Screenwriter Robert Bloch did not intend to write a Caligari remake, and in fact the title was forced upon his untitled screenplay by director Roger Kay. The film had few similarities to the original Caligari except for its title and a plot twist at the end, in which it is revealed the story was simply the delusion of the protagonist, who believed she was being held captive by a character named Caligari. Instead, he was her psychiatrist, and he cures her at the end of the film.

The story of the way director Roger Kay tried to rob Bloch of the writing credit for the film and how Bloch won out is told in Bloch's autobiography.[1]


Motorist Jane Lindstrom (Glynis Johns) has a tire blowout and seeks assistance at an estate owned by Caligari (Dan O'Herlihy), a very polite man with a German accent. After spending the night she finds that Caligari will not let her leave; he proceeds to ask some personal questions and shows her (presumably sexual) pictures that offend her.

Prevented by guards from leaving and unable to use the telephone, Jane seeks allies among the other guests. She finds only three possible candidates: the older Paul, the younger Mark (Dick Davalos), for whom she has romantic desires, and a lively elderly woman named Ruth (Estelle Winwood). After seeing Ruth tortured, Jane goes to Paul who convinces her to confront Caligari. Jane does so and tries to seduce him, as she suspects he has been spying on her in the bath. After her attempts fail, Caligari reveals that he and Paul and are one and the same person, Jane runs down a corridor of wildly shifting imagery that acts as a transition.

Finally it is revealed that Jane is a mental patient and everything the audience has seen up to this point has been her distortion of the institute she was in: the personal questions were psychoanalysis, the pictures were Rorschach blots, Ruth's torture was shock treatment, and even Caligari's coat of arms was a distorted version of the medical caduceus symbol. Cured, Jane is taken from the asylum by Mark, now revealed to be her son.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Once Around the Bloch: An Autobiography (1993), pp 258-62, 264-68

External links[edit]