House of Usher (1960) Script

Sir? I would Iike to see Miss Usher.

Well, I'm afraid that's not possible, sir.

Miss Usher is confined to her bed.

She's ill? Yes, sir.

Is it serious? Sir?

My name is Philip Winthrop. Miss Usher and I are engaged to be married.

I cannot admit you, sir. Cannot? By whose order?

Mr Roderick, her brother. He has expressly forbidden...

Then I shall speak to him.

I insist you announce me.

Yes, sir. If you'll just come in.

Your coat, sir.

If you'll just follow me.

Yes? What is it? Your boots, sir.

What about them? Do you mind taking them off?

Taking them off? What on earth for?

I'm sure Mr Roderick will explain it to you, sir.

A strange request. This is the first time I've ever been...


If you'd care to put these on, sir.

Thank you.

Well, if we may go now.

This way, sir.

What is the meaning of this?

I... This is Mr Winthrop, sir.

How dare you admit anyone into this house?

I insisted, sir. I felt I had the right.

Well, we can't talk out here.

PIease come in.

I gather you know who I am, sir... If you please, Mr Winthrop, softly.

An affliction of the hearing.

Sounds of any exaggerated degree cut into my brain Iike knives.

My apologies.

I'm afraid you're going to have to Ieave, Mr Winthrop.

I've come to see Madeline. That is quite impossible.

She is confined to her bed.

Mr Usher, your sister and I are betrothed.

It was a mistake. I don't believe that.

PIease don't argue with me, sir.

You must Ieave this house now.

It is not a healthy place for you to be.

Mr Usher...

I have ridden all the way from Boston to see Madeline.

I do not intend to Ieave without seeing her. If...



Madeline, in heaven's name, you must return to your bed.


You came all the way just to see me? Yes, to see you.

Madeline, I must insist.

We shall talk Iater, Philip. Mr Winthrop is Ieaving.

Leaving? I'm not Ieaving.

He must stay, Roderick.

PIease Iet him stay, Roderick.

Very well, he will stay. Now, for pity's sake, return to your bed.

What happened?

I think your fireplace needs a screen. Does it?

I was just admiring this painting here. Is it your own work?

It is.

And you also play this Iute?

I do.

Mr Winthrop, are you actually planning to marry my sister?

Mr Usher, during the time we spent together in Boston, it never occurred to me that... and I dare say to Madeline either, that we were not destined for each other.

When she left me, she said to me "I will love you for ever."

Does it seem so incredible, then, that I would want to marry her?

If you only knew how incredible.

And I suppose this... this vision includes children?

God willing. God willing!

If you knew the nightmare you are picturing for me, sir.

Nightmare? That's what I said.

Why shouldn't Madeline marry and have children?

Because the Usher Iine is tainted, Mr Winthrop.

Tainted, sir? You saw Madeline and you see me.

We are dying, Mr Winthrop.

As you saw her today, she is and will remain.

Believe me, sir, I bear you no malice.

Were things otherwise, I should welcome you into our family joyously.

But under the circumstances it is quite impossible.

But why do you assume that... that you are dying?

There are many reasons. Pray give me one, then.

Madeline and I are Iike figures of fine glass.

The slightest touch and we may shatter.

Both of us suffer from a morbid acuteness of the senses.

Mine is the worse for having existed the Ionger, but both of us are afflicted with it.

Any sort of food more exotic than the most pallid mash is unendurable to my taste buds.

Any sort of garment other than the softest is agony to my flesh.

My eyes are tormented by all but the faintest illumination.

Odours assail me constantly.

And, as I've said, sounds of any degree whatsoever inspire me with terror.

That's why I had to remove my boots.


And even so, I could hear your coming.

Every footstep, every rustle of your clothes.

I could hear your horse approaching, the clatter of its hooves across the courtyard, your knock...

The grating of the door bolt was Iike a sword stroke to my ears.

I can hear the scratch of rat claws within the stone wall.

Mr Winthrop, three-quarters of my family have fallen into madness, and in their madness have acquired a superhuman strength, so that it took the power of many to subdue them.

Do you not exaggerate, sir?

Perhaps there have been in your family certain... peculiarities of temperament...

Peculiarities of temperament?

How diplomatically you put it.

Peculiarities of temperament.

Would you permit me to Iight a candle?

I think you had better Ieave.

I think you need some Iight in this house, Mr Usher.

Two pale drops of fire, guttering in the vast, consuming darkness.

My sister and myself.

Shortly they will burn no more.

She cannot Ieave this house, Mr Winthrop.

Believe that or not as you will, but she cannot Ieave it.

For her own sake as well as yours, will you Ieave now, please?

No, I will not.

Very well.

Bristol will show you to a room.

I have warned you, sir.

Whatever consequences may follow your refusal to Ieave... are upon you alone.

Yes? Supper, Mr Winthrop.

I'll be down directly. Very good, sir.


What is that noise? What happened?

Is it Mr Winthrop? Philip!

I'm all right, Madeline. What happened?

I'm not sure. Philip, you'd better Ieave this place.

Please leave. It isn't safe for you.

Darling, I'm all right.

I'm not Ieaving you, Madeline.

Mr Winthrop?

No, thank you.

My dear?

You haven't touched a thing, Madeline.

Don't you think... that crack in the wall should be repaired?

For future generations of Ushers?

For Madeline's safety.

It was probably the trembling of the house which caused that chandelier to fall.

Do you really think so? Have you a better explanation?

While I was riding here, I noticed a singular Iack of vegetation in the area.

Is there something wrong with the soil?

The soil... Yes, of course.

Roderick, please.

As you will.

How do things go in Boston, Philip? Everyone asks for you.

Oh, do they?

They miss you, Madeline. We all miss you.

Remarkable. And you composed it yourself?


May we have another? I'm afraid Madeline must retire now.

But I'm not tired.

Very well.

Good night, brother.

Good night, my dear.

Good night, Philip. Good night.

I suggest we retire too, Mr Winthrop.


I trust you will be prepared to Ieave tomorrow morning.

If you wish. But if I do, I won't be alone.

I intend to see that...


Darling, darling.

I'm sorry I frightened you.

I didn't want to knock for fear your brother would hear.

Philip, I missed you.

I Iove you.

Madeline, I swear to you, tomorrow you Ieave this place with me.

If only I could. You will, you will.

But you don't understand.

May you never see into the heart of this horrible house.

Darling, once you're with me, you'll wake up from this nightmare.

Good night, sir.

Mr Usher, you fail to understand... Good night, sir.

You cannot order my life, Roderick.

Is it so easy for you to forget, Madeline?

My Iife is my own. Is it?


I think this... Is it, Madeline?

Do you hate me so much you want to keep me a prisoner here?

Hate you?

Oh, my dear. Hate you?

Don't you know that I Iove you more than anything in the world?

Can't you see it's my Iove for you makes me act as I do?

You cannot Ieave here, Madeline.

You know what would happen if you did. You know that.

I only know what you've told me.

Oh, my dear. Do not delude yourself. I beg of you, do not delude yourself.


I shall stay with her.

In the name of God, sir, will you not understand? Leave my sister be.

Mr Usher, I mean to take her from this house tomorrow.

I will not argue with you. Would you Ieave, please?

It will be all right, Madeline.


Don't touch her!

You mustn't wake her, sir.

The shock could be very harmful.

How did she get here? She walks in her sleep, sir.

And then she comes here?

She's obsessed by thoughts of death. Poor child.

How Iong has she been doing this?

Ever since her return from Boston, sir.

I'II just take her to her room.

No, I'II... No, no.

You might awaken her, sir.

Better Iet me.

I've done it before.

Good morning, Bristol. Good morning, sir.

Has Miss Madeline had breakfast yet? Oh, no, sir.

I'd Iike to take a breakfast tray to her. Very well.

Of course, she doesn't eat much usually.

Then we'II see to it that she does eat. Yes, sir.

Let's see what we have here. Bread - that's good. Milk, a Iittle fruit.

I'll take it to her, sir.

No, I'll do it. Yes, sir.

How about some eggs? Sir, I think perhaps a Iittle gruel.

It's the most she eats in the morning.

Gruel? Yes, sir.

Oh, yes, her sense of taste.

Well, all right, then. Hot gruel... for both of us.

Yes, sir.

How Iong have you been with the Ushers, Bristol?

Sixty years, sir.

Sixty years!

Ever since I was a boy.

Then, this is as much your house as it is Mr Roderick's.

And Miss Madeline's, sir.

Not after today. I'm taking her to Boston with me.

I see.

How Iong has that been going on?

So Iong I'm hardly aware of it any more.

It's just the settling of the house.

It can cause this entire structure to collapse. That doesn't worry you?

Oh, no, sir. If the house dies, I shall die with it.

Oh, be careful, sir. It was about to hit you. It could cause a nasty burn.

It's that fissure. It causes the entire house to shake.

Yes, sir.

Who is it?

Your breakfast, Miss Usher.

Hot gruel and... hot gruel.

It's so dark in here I can barely see you.


No sunlight.

There'II be sunlight where we Iive.


Good morning.

Good morning.

If he comes in now, don't be afraid.

He won't come in. He has to take drugs to sleep.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Well, now...

To fill you with hot gruel and good cheer.

You're so sweet.

Nothing too good for the future Mrs Winthrop.

Mrs Winthrop...

Open your mouth.

I'm not hungry.

Madeline, I'll have no scrawny woman in my home. Open your mouth. Come on.

Madeline, get ready to Ieave. I want to, Philip.

Then you will.

I can't. Why?

Because very soon I shall be dead.

I forbid you to say that ever again.

It's true, Philip. It is not true.

You're full of Iife.

Look at me, Philip. Do I Iook full of Iife?

I remember you as you were in Boston. Do you remember?

You were exuberant. You were filled with the joy of Iiving.

That's how you'II be again when you Ieave here and become my wife.

I wish you could understand.

Then Iet me understand, Madeline. Let me, so that I can help you.

Perhaps you'II feel differently after you've seen.

Where are we going?

You'II see.

Careful, darling.

You don't want to go in there. I want you to see.

Put your weight against it.

Here they all are. The Ushers.

It's the Iack of air in here.

It's the air itself.

Nothing can survive it Iong.

My great-grandfather.

His wife.

My grandfather.

My grandmother.

My father.

My mother.

This is monstrous!

Whose idea was this? Your dear brother's?

There's one for him too.

Does that absolve him?

It waits for me.

No, it does not.

They all wait for me.

Oh, Madeline, Madeline, you must stop this.

Can't you see what you're doing to yourself?

You don't understand.

I understand, but you must Ieave the dead to themselves.

Oh, Madeline, come away with me now.

What have you done?

Give her to me.

Thank you. See to the crypt, will you?

Yes, sir.

Well, are you content now, Mr Winthrop?

It is not I who force her to Iive in a cemetery.

Do you think that I wish her harm?

I think you still do not understand. And I think it's time that you did.

The tarn is very deep.

One of the Usher women drowned herself in it. She was never found.

I dare say it's deep enough to swallow this house entire.

I'm waiting, Mr Usher.

Last night you asked about the singular aridity of the Iand around this house.

Once this Iand was fertile.

Farms abounded. Earth yielded her riches at harvest time.

There were trees and plant Iife, flowers, fields of grain.

There was great beauty here.

At that time this water was clear and fresh.

Swans glided upon its crystal surface.

Animals came to its bank, trustingly, to drink.

But this was Iong before my time.

Why do you tell me these things?

And then something crept across the Iand and blighted it.

The trees Iost their foliage.

The flowers Ianguished and died.

Shrubs grew brown and shrivelled.

The grain fields perished.

The Iakes and ponds became black and stagnant.

And the Iand withered as before a plague.

A plague?

Yes, Mr Winthrop.

A plague of evil.

Anthony Usher.

Thief, usurer...

merchant of flesh.

Bernard Usher.

Swindler, forger, jewel thief, drug addict.

Francis Usher.

Professional assassin.

Vivian Usher. BIackmailer... harlot, murderess.

She died in the madhouse.

Captain David Usher.

Smuggler, slave-trader... mass murderer.

Mr Usher, I don't see that this has anything to do with Madeline and myself.

I don't believe in the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children.

You do not, sir?

The House of Usher seems to you, then, normal?

The house, sir, is neither normal nor abnormal.

It is only a house.

You are very wrong, Mr Winthrop. This house is centuries old.

It was brought here from England. And with it every evil rooted in its stones.

You really believe this!

Evil is not just a word, it is a reality.

Like any Iiving thing, it can be created. It was created by these people.

The history of the Ushers is a history of savage degradations.

First in England, and then in New England.

And always in this house.

AIways in this house.

The pall of evil which fills it is no illusion.

For hundreds of years, foul thoughts and foul deeds have been committed within its walls.

The house itself is evil now.

No, I... I cannot believe this.

But you must.

For Madeline's sake, you must.

Most of all does this evil reside in her.

And this is your dreadful secret?

Mr Winthrop, do you think those coals jumping from the fire onto you were an accident?

Do you think that chandelier falling was an accident?

Do you think that falling casket was an accident?

Are you saying the house made those things happen?


Oh, no, sir. That's ridiculous.

But even if it were true... even if this house were full of evil, Madeline is not.

Nor, for all of your talk, are you.

You cannot take my sister out of this house.

If she were to bear children, the Usher evil would spread - malignant, cancerous.

You are mad. I will not Iisten. You will.

No, I will not!

I'll tell you what's evil in this house, sir. You!

I will not Iet your sickened fancies destroy Madeline's Iife!

She Ieaves with me today.

Who is it?

We're Ieaving... now.

Philip... You have no other choice.

If you remain here, this house will destroy you.

Then you know.

Your brother has poisoned you with his absurdities.

This entire atmosphere of sickness and disillusion is his doing.

Madeline, there's nothing wrong with you that Ieaving this house won't cure.

Do you Iove me?

You know I do. Then Ieave with me now.

I will.

Pack just a few belongings. I'II get my things ready.

How will we go? You'II ride with me.

Later on we'II get a coach to Boston.

Oh, Philip, can it truly be?

Darling, within an hour we'II be away from here.

I love you.

I love you.

Pack, quickly.

No, Roderick. I will not Iisten.

I've been here Iong enough. PIease Iet me go.

I don't care what you say! You can't keep me here!

You have no right. I say you can't go.

No, I will not Iisten. PIease Iet me go.

There may be no hope for you, but there is for me.

I say I will! Madeline.

I must Ieave, Roderick. PIease Iet me. Madeline!

I don't care what you say. There's nothing you can say. I will Ieave!

Open the door.


What have you done to her?






Madeline? Madeline.


Yes, she's dead.

I told you she could never Ieave this house.

What did you do to her? I didn't touch her.

You killed her!

There is no mark on her.

You are the one who killed her.

I... She was not well, and yet you persisted.

Her heart could not withstand the strain you put upon it.


It's no matter now.

At Ieast she has been spared the agony of trying to escape.

One candle Ieft to burn now...

before the darkness comes.

At Ieast... she has found peace now.

Has she?

Why do you say that?

Because I do not believe that for the Ushers there is peace hereafter.

Is there no end to your horrors?


None whatever.

For they are not mine alone.

Mere passage from the flesh cannot undo centuries of evil.

There can be no peace without penalty.

Yet you wanted her to die.

Wanted? Yes!

I did not wish her death.

I only knew it was inevitable, as my death is inevitable.

Our blight must be removed from this earth.

What Iies beyond is something else again.

Must you close it now?

She must take her place below with the rest of the Ushers.

One Iast Iook.

I cannot bear to Iook at her.

I'll carry her with you. Bristol and I can manage.

I would rather, if you don't mind.

I'll carry her.


I just wanted to say goodbye.

Shall I prepare some breakfast before you leave, sir?

No, thank you. Some coffee, then?

Yes, a Iittle bit. Very good, sir.

Shall I serve it in the... No, no. I'll take it here.

You look tired, sir.

I don't suppose any of us slept much Iast night.

No, sir.

Bristol... Yes, sir?

Do you think it was my coming that caused Miss Madeline...

Oh, no, sir. Not at all. Miss Madeline was not well.

Her brother thinks I killed her. It's just that he's highly overwrought, sir.


Thank you for the coffee. You're welcome, sir.

Don't recriminate yourself, Mr Winthrop.

Miss Madeline's passing was not your fault.

She was very weak, poor child.

It was... the Usher blood.

There's such a history of illness in the family.

What with heart ailments, nervous diseases, catalep...

And the Iike, sir. Miss Madeline was...

What did you say? Sir?

You said catalepsies? Did I, sir?

Was Madeline subject to cataleptic trances?

Oh, no, sir.

The truth! Was she? No, sir.

That's why Mr Usher wanted her put in the crypt so soon.

Oh, no, Mr Winthrop.

Oh, my God!

No, you're wrong, sir. You're wrong, sir.


Mr Winthrop.

Mr Winthrop.

Leave her in peace. In peace?

Mr Winthrop, Ieave her in peace.

Don't, sir! I beg of you.

Where is she? I don't know, sir.

Tell me! I don't know. I swear I don't know.

I thought she was here. You knew she was alive.

I wasn't sure, sir.

You weren't sure?!



What do you wish? Where is she?

So you know.

Where? You cannot find her.

Tell me where she is. In a secret place.

For the Iast time... Go on. You would do me a great favour.

Where is she? Don't touch me.

Where is she? Don't touch me!

Where is she? Dead.

You Iie. You buried her alive.

I did.

But she's dead now. I swear it.

You swear it?! You buried your own sister alive.

But I had to do it.

Can't you understand that? She was doomed.

Where is she? Where is she? Where is she?

Mr Winthrop!

Where is this secret place? Secret?

Bristol, you must know. I know nothing, sir. Nothing.

I'II find her.

Oh, sir.

Was it necessary to... You know that it was.



PIease, sir. Try to get some rest, sir.

I have to find her. But it's too Iate, sir.


PIease, sir. PIease. She's alive.

Try to get some rest. I know she...

She's alive.

Still here?

I suggest you Ieave, Mr Winthrop.

No? Then perish with us.

The old house crumbles. Perhaps this storm will finish it.

You have murdered your sister, Mr Usher, and I intend to see that you hang for it.

Do you? Arrange it quickly, then.

If only I could kill you myself.

Yes, if only you could. Yes.

Why did you do it?

I told you.


You will never understand.

To so Iogical a mind as yours I have committed a murder.

If you only knew the agonies I have spared you and the world.

If you only knew the agonies I have endured on your behalf.

Did you know...

Did you know that I could hear every sound she made?

That I heard her breathing in her casket?

Heard her first gasp as she awoke?

Her first scream of terror?

Did you know I could hear the scratching of her fingernails on the casket Iid?

You are mad!

Be done! What?

I think I rave.

You said "Be done." What did you mean?


Is she still alive? No.

Is she? No.

Is she? Yes!

Yes, even now I hear her.

No. Yes.

AIive, deranged, infuriate.

Can you not hear her voice?

Where? In the name of God, where?


Twisting, turning, scratching at the Iid with bloody fingernails.

Staring, screaming, wild with fury, the strength of madness in her.

Can you not hear her voice? She calls my name.

Roderick! Roderick!



Where is she?


Give me this. Wait.

Don't go down there.

Let her die.

She has the madness.

Mr Winthrop, please.

Leave her, sir. Leave her?

But you may never find her. The house is honeycombed with secret passages.

She could be anywhere, sir. I'II find her.

But she's mad, sir.


Mr Winthrop. Mr Winthrop.

Mr Winthrop. Mr Winthrop, please. Mr Winthrop, you must Ieave.

Where is she? The outside wall has begun to crack.

Where has she gone? I don't know. PIease, I beg of you.

The whole house may at any moment...




There was no other way. No other way.

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