The House of a Thousand Candles

1936 film by Arthur Lubin

The House of a Thousand Candles

Directed by

Arthur Lubin

Written by

H. W. Hanemann
Endre Bohem
Ralph Gilbert Bettison
Charles G. Booth

Based on

novel by Meredith Nicholson

Produced by

Dorothy Reid
Nat Levine (uncredited)


Phillips Holmes
Mae Clarke
Irving Pichel


Jack A. Marta
Ernest Miller

Edited by

Ralph Dixon

Music by

Arthur Kay


Republic Pictures

Distributed by

Republic Pictures

Release date

April 3, 1936

Running time

71 minutes


United States



The House of a Thousand Candles is a 1936 American thriller film directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Phillips Holmes, Mae Clarke and Irving Pichel. It is based on the 1906 novel by Meredith Nicholson. The novel had been filmed twice before, once in 1915 (as The House of a Thousand Candles) and again in 1919 by Henry King (under the title Haunting Shadows).

A British secret service agent is sent to try to prevent a plot to derail a peace conference in Geneva and threaten international peace.


Unscrupulous casino owner Anton Sebastian secretly runs a network of spies out of his hotel and casino, \"The House of a Thousand Candles\". After killing one of his spies, Victor Demetrius, via poison, he sends a secret message over the radio to a dancer, Raquel. Sebastian orders him to intercept a British intelligence agent Tony Carleton and steal some top-secret documents.

British intelligence officer Sir Andrew McIntyre instructs agent Carleton to pick up some opera tickets in an envelope which contains secret information, and then to go to Geneva. Tony gets the envelope and boards a train, but is followed by his American admirer, Carol Vincent.

On the train, Raquel slips Tony a drugged drink, steals all of his papers and then escapes to meet Sebastian at the hotel. Tony jumps off the train and Carol follows. They arrive at the hotel and register as brother and sister.

Carol hides in Raquel\'s room when Sebastian plants a microphone. She goes to his study and sees his storage place for stolen papers. Then she listens in to Tony and Raquel. Raquel is about to tell Tony who she works for when she is killed by her maid Marta, who is loyal to Sebastian.

Tony and the envelope are captured by Sebastian, who plans to kill him and make it look like an accident. Tony agrees to decode the information on the envelope to protect Caroo but she tries to stop him by burning it. The flames reveal the real information.

Sebastian leaves with the message, and Alf and Barrie, other secret agents, rescue Tony and Carol. They find Sebastian\'s secret codes, after which Tony sets out in pursuit of Sebastian. Barrie uses the codes to broadcast to Sebastian\'s men, saying Sebastian is a murderer who stole Sebastian\'s car – and they drive him off the road.

Tony and Carol get married.


Mae Clarke as Carol Vincent
Irving Pichel as Anton Sebastian
Phillips Holmes as Tony Carleton
Rosita Moreno as Raquel
Fred Walton as Alf
Hedwiga Reicher as Maria
Lawrence Grant as Sir Andrew McIntyre
Frederick Vogeding as Travers
Michael Fitzmaurice as Keith Barrie
Rafael Storm as Jules Gregoire
Mischa Auer as Demetrius
Paul Ellis as Agent
Keith Daniels as Steward
Charles De Ravenne as Radio Attendant
Olaf Hytten as Sergeant
John Sutton as Young Man
Max Wagner as Henchman


House of a Thousand Candles had been previously filmed before in 1919 as an American silent film, as Haunting Shadows. It was directed by Henry King and starred H. B. Warner, Edward Piel Jr., Charles Hill Mailes and Florence Oberle. Filming of this version took place in December 1935.


The New York Times called it \"lively... briskly directed... effectively played.\"

Diabolique magazine called it \"creaky and is hampered, as many Lubin films would be, by a lack of star power in the lead roles, which really should be played by stars, but it is quick and light and Lubin clearly has affection for his characters.\"

Lubin himself said he thought the picture was \"charming\".


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