Joseph L. Mankiewicz ‘s first turn in the director's chair was Dragonwyck, the screen adaptation of Anya Seton's novel starring Vincent Price. Part of the Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2 3 DVD set with Bela Lugosi in Chandu the Magician and Dr. Renault's Secret Dragonwyck is an interesting gothic horror movie.
Vincent Price plays Nicholas Van Ryn, the iron fisted boss of Dragonwyck, one of the last tenant farmer estates in New York. He calls for his distant cousin, Miranda Wells (Gene Tierney) to help care for his young daughter. It takes a while but Price's wife dies, he and Miranda fall in love, get married, and she gives him a son. What is clearly established early on however is the Dragonwyck estate is cursed.
This really is an old-fashion classy gothic horror movie. The pacing and lack of action might put off a younger, modern audience and you have to pay close attention to find the indications as to how much time has passed between scenes but it is a good character based movie. Price is great as the troubled Van Ryn and gives one of his more subtle performances. Look for Jessica Tandy as Miranda's maid Peggy.
Commentators Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr often link Dragonwyck to Jane Eyre and it is a good comparison. In some ways this DVD is a romantic horror film with a bit of a mystery thrown in.
Special features on this horror DVD from the Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2 DVD box set include A House of Secrets: Exploring Dragonwyck, Dragonwyck Radio Show Performed by Vincent Price and Gene Tierney - October 7, 1946, and another 1947 radio performance, Restoration Comparison, the original trailer, an Interactive Pressbook, and the standard Still Gallery. The most interesting special feature is the commentary track by Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr.