The Fall of the House of Usher

In other media

In film

La Chute de la maison Usher is a 1928 silent French horror film directed by Jean Epstein starring Marguerite Gance, Jean Debucourt, and Charles Lamy. Actress Gwendoline Watford made her film debut playing Lady Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher, a British black and white film version made in 1947 but not released until 1950.

In the low-budget Roger Corman B-film from 1960, known in the United States as House of Usher starring Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, the narrator is Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon), who had fallen in love with the sickly Madeline (Myrna Fahey) during her brief residence in Boston and become engaged to her. As Roderick reveals, the Usher family has a history of evil and cruelty so great that he and Madeline pledged in their youth never to have children and to allow their family to die with them. Winthrop tries desperately to convince Madeline to leave with him in spite of Roderick's disapproval, and is on the point of succeeding when Madeline falls into a deathlike catalepsy; her brother (who knows that she is still alive) convinces Winthrop that she is dead and rushes to have her placed in the family crypt. When she wakes up, Madeline goes insane from being buried alive and breaks free. She confronts her brother and begins throttling him to death. Suddenly the house, already aflame due to fallen coals from the fire, begins to collapse, and Winthrop flees as Roderick is killed by Madeline and both she and the Ushers' sole servant are consumed by the falling house. The film was Corman's first in a series of eight films inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Another monochrome version appeared on British television in 1966 as part of the first series of Mystery and Imagination (1966–68) starring Denholm Elliott as Roderick Usher. It's one of only two surviving episodes of the otherwise lost first series (the other being "The Open Door" starring Jack Hawkins. It is available on the Network DVD label in the UK. It was filmed on studio sets, recorded on videotape and broadcast on ITV on 12 February 1966.

A devout fan of the works of Poe, cult director Curtis Harrington tackled the story in his first and last films. Casting himself in dual roles as Roderick and Madeline Usher in both versions, Harrington shot his original 10-minute silent short on 8mm in 1942,[23] and he shot a new 36 minute version simply titled Usher on 35mm[23] in 2000 which he intended to utilize in a longer Poe anthology film that never came to fruition.[24] Both versions were included on the 2013 DVD/Blu-ray release Curtis Harrington: The Short Film Collection.

In theater, animation and music

In the early 1970s, Steven Berkoff worked on a theatrical adaptation called 'The Fall of the House of Usher' whose 35 brief scenes follow closely the course of Poe's story. Published by Amber Lane Press, it was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1974 and subsequently at the Hampstead Theatre Club in 1975.

The 1976 debut Album of the Alan Parsons Project, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, adapted many Poe stories in musical form. The second half of the album was a five-part set dedicated to the Fall of the House of Usher, with an introductory narration by Orson Welles as the narrator.

In 2002 Lance Tait wrote a one-act play The Fall of the House of Usher, based on Poe's tale. Laura Grace Pattillo wrote in The Edgar Allan Poe Review (2006), "[Tait's] play follows Poe's original story quite closely, using a female Chorus figure to help further the tale as the 'Friend' (as Tait names the narrator) alternates between monologue and conversation with Usher."[25]

The Fall of the House of Usher (2015), narrated by Christopher Lee, animated short film which is part of Extraordinary Tales[26][27]

Between 1908-17, French composer Claude Debussy worked on an opera called La chute de la maison Usher. The libretto was his own, based on Poe, and the work was to be a companion piece to another short opera (Le diable dans le beffroi) based on Poe's "The Devil in the Belfry". At Debussy's death the work was unfinished, however. In recent years completions have been attempted by three different musicologists.

Another operatic version, composed by Philip Glass in 1987 with a libretto by Arthur Yorinks, premiered at the American Repertory Theatre and the Kentucky Opera in 1988 and was revived at the Nashville Opera in 2009.[28] The Long Beach Opera mounted a version of this work in February 2013 at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, Los Angeles.[29]

In 2008, a musical theatre adaptation ("Usher") written by two Yale students (Sarah Hirsch and Molly Fox) won the Best Musical award at the New York International Fringe Festival.[30][31][32]

Dave Malloy's 2014 song cycle Ghost Quartet includes, amongst other interwoven narratives a retelling of the story, with several major changes. These changes include the presence of two Usher children, and the moving of Roderick's symptoms to his wife, Lady Usher.[33]


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