The Fall of the House of Usher (1950)


The movie The Fall of the House of Usher (1950) is a British horror film directed by Ivan Barnett. It is an adaptation of the 1839 short story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe. The film uses a framing device set in a gentlemen’s club where one of the members reads to his friends from a copy of Poe’s book¹.

A century before, a young man visits a bleak-looking mansion in the English countryside where his friend Lord Roderick Usher lives with his sister Lady Madeline. They are both mysteriously ill and he discovers that they are suffering from a curse caused by their father which will lead to them both dying shortly, resulting in the downfall and end of the ancient family of Usher¹.

The movie The Fall of the House of Usher (1950) was made in Hastings by a low-budget company GIB Films. Ivan Barnett produced the film and also worked as director and cinematographer. The film was made in 1948, but it was not released until 1950. It was issued an ‘H’ Certificate, a rarity at the time, by the British Board of Film Censors. Despite its limited budget, the film proved surprisingly successful on its release as a second feature and even topped the bill in some cinemas. It was reissued in 1955 and again in 1961. It may have been an influence on the subsequent development of Hammer Horror¹.


  • Gwen Watford (credited as Gwendoline) as Lady Madeline Usher
  • Kaye Tendeter as Lord Roderick Usher
  • Irving Steen as Jonathan
  • Vernon Charles as Dr. Cordwall
  • Connie Goodwin as Louise
  • Gavin Lee as the butler
  • Keith Lorraine as George
  • Lucy Pavey as the hag
  • Tony Powell-Bristow as Richard
  • Robert Woolard as Greville


The film was first shown in the UK on a floating release in 1950, when it was granted an “H” certificate by the BBFC⁸. A much abridged print (cut from 70 minutes to 39 minutes) was released in 1956, when the BBFC gave the revised cut of the picture an X Certificate on March 22, 1956. [2]

No actor or actress in this movie besides Gwen Watford ever appeared in another film⁸. Gwen Watford’s movie debut was in this film. [2]

This was the only screen appearance of both Kaye Tendeter and Irving Steen, who portray Roderick Usher and his friend Jonathan respectively, as well as Vernon Charles, who plays Dr Cordwell. [2]

Much of the dialogue has been added in post-production. [2]


“A weak adaptation then; of more interest for its existence in the first place, than for anything that the filmmakers were able to realise. On the other hand, Poe completists should certainly check it out.” – [3]

“This little movie is really a sleeper and it would pay to search it out for viewing, a real gem!” – [4]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] IMDb




Last updated byCody Meirick on November 29, 2023