The Chronicles of the Gray House (1925)

Article #918 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 9-19-2003
Posting date: 2-16-2004
Directed by Arthur von Gerlach
Featuring Gertrud Arnold, Lil Dagover, Rudolf Forster

Two brothers fight over possession of the estate of their deceased father.

The Gray House actually looks more like a castle than a house, but that’s a minor point. I actually have two copies of this one. The longer one is a little more than an hour and a half, has German title cards in one of those impenetrable German fonts, and has music (various edits of Beethoven’s fifth symphony). The shorter one has no music and runs less than half the length, but has English subtitles, which gave me a chance to figure out certain details of the plot that I might otherwise have missed in the longer version. You can see that the longer one goes into more detail about the relationship between the two brothers. There are also lots of scenes of documents being crumpled and ripped up in the longer version (it happens enough that I saw fit to mention it). It’s basically a somewhat operatic drama; the only fantastic content involves the appearance of a ghost at a crucial moment in the proceedings. If the whole movie feels a bit similar to a Fritz Lang film, this may be attributable to the fact that it was written by Thea von Harbou, who wrote the scripts for many of Lang’s early movies.

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