Victoria Van Brett (Mary Morris) is an elderly spinster socialite who lives in the dusty creaky family mansion with her mousey sister Caroline (Anne Revere).  Victoria is the eldest and has been the head of the household since the death of her father.  At that time she became the matriarch of the family and the guardian of her half-brother Rip (Kent Taylor).  Victoria manages the house and the finances.  She also dominates her sister and manipulates her half-brother.

While in the service, Rip was injured and spent some time recuperating in hospital.  This is where he met and fell in love with his nurse, Anne Darrow (Evelyn Venable).  Rip takes Anne back to the family homestead to get married.

Victoria doesn’t want to change the status quo and believes that Anne is a gold digger.  She rules the family with an iron fist and manipulates everyone around her to the point where she is abusive.  When her father was alive, he had trouble sleeping due to the noises out in the street.  He built a soundproof room that he slept in every night.  After he died the room was converted into a hidden vault.  One time, when Victoria was mad at Caroline, she locked her sister in the vault to punish her.  Caroline was terrified that Victoria might do it again, so she allowed her older sister to run the estate and did whatever she was told.

As soon as Anne arrives at the estate, Victoria initiates a campaign of hate and fear on the young bride.  Her venom extends to trying to turn Rip against Anne by suggesting that Anne is having an affair with Rip’s friend Dr. John Lucas (Colin Tapley).  Rip ends up believing Anne and decides that he and Anne need to leave the house and get away from Victoria’s toxic hate.  Victoria, knowing that she has lost, decides she needs to do something drastic to regain her control over the household.          

“Double Door” was released in 1934 and was directed by Charles Vidor.  It is an American pre-code thriller with horror aspects.  The film was based on the 1933 Elizabeth A. McFadden play of the same name.

Mary Morris, who plays the evil Victoria Van Brett, is primarily a stage actress.  This is the only film she did.  Both Mary and Anne Revere, who played Caroline Van Brett, were in the play and reprised their roles for the film.    

The Van Brett sister characters are loosely based on Rebecca and Ella Wendel.  The Wendel sisters were wealthy but eccentric spinsters that were the last remnants of the 5th Avenue based family.    Originally there were eight siblings in the family.  The family was plagued by insanity and various other family issues.  The New York Press was fond of calling them the weird Wendels.  The last sister, Ella, died in 1931.  The family mansion was torn down three years after her death.

All in all, it was a damn good movie. 

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