Maze, The (1953)

Maze, The (1953)

“Whatever has happened to Gerald is something evil.”

When her fiance Gerald (Richard Carlson) inherits a Scottish castle and suddenly breaks off their engagement, plucky Kitty (Veronica Hurst) and her aunt Edith (Katherine Emery) investigate Gerald’s mysterious behavior.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Amateur Sleuths
  • Inheritance
  • Scotland

This 3-D mystery thriller by director William Cameron Menzies — who helmed Invaders from Mars (1953) the same year — possesses a ridiculous plot, amateur acting, and awful dialogue: “He was too proud, too weak — so were we all.” The first hour or so tells a fairly atmospheric tale of a woman determined to solve the mystery of her fiance’s bizarre behavior (though the unappealing Gerald acts so boorishly towards Kitty, we wonder why she even bothers).

The absurd denouement, however, brings us squarely into the realm of sci-fi camp: if you’re not too busy laughing, you’ll wonder how in the world the actors kept straight faces through it all.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric set designs and lighting

Must See?
No. Peary lists this title in the back of his book as a Sleeper, but I think it’s much better suited for MST3K satire.


One thought on “Maze, The (1953)

  1. Not a must – but for a unique reason. The film (for the most part) isn’t really all that bad. We’re thrown into a rather congenial situation: two people very evidently in love, and in the company of those who are very fond of them, will soon be married. But suddenly the groom-to-be is beckoned to the castle of a relative he’s had little contact with. It’s urgent.

    All plays out fairly well from there – in satisfying, if not terribly original gothic form: moody with nothing but question marks. In fact, it’s those question marks that keep us going. (And it’s not hard to believe that Hurst would be so persistent in unraveling things; at the beginning of the film, Carlson was clearly, most definitely in love.)

    And then, of course, we eventually get to it: an ending that, in one…uh, leap, effectively nullifies every single moment that preceded it. You just completely and immediately forget everything you’ve watched. I’ve rarely seen a film so obliterated by its conclusion. (Which is why I don’t think MST3K would be a good fit for this; up to the film’s last moments, I find ‘The Maze’ reasonably gripping.)

    One thing I especially like is that the heroine has others with her on her side (her aunt and then friends later); you start feeling more secure in the midst of the mystery. And perhaps my favorite bit comes when Carlson is having dinner with his guests and, for one moment, allows himself a genuine smile – brief relief from being overwrought.

    ‘The Maze’ doesn’t fall into camp ground for me…well, not until the wrap-up. Then, yes – you’ll be howling before you know it.

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