Lovecraft and “Berkeley Square”

H.P. Lovecraft, 1915
H.P. Lovecraft, 1915

I was lazily drifting through the web tonight, when I came upon a bit of interesting trivia.   According to, one of Lovecraft’s favorite films was “Berkeley Square”.   He is quoted as saying about it:

“But with all its defects this thing gave me an uncanny wallop. When I revisited it I saw it through twice – & I shall probably go again on its next return. It is the most weirdly perfect embodiment of my own moods & pseudo-memories that I have ever seen…” (to J. Vernon Shea, 4 February 1934)

According to the Internet Movie Database, the storyline is:  “A young American man is transported back to London in the time of the American Revolution and meets his ancestors.”

A review by “clementj” on the same page describes it as follows:

“This is a very amusing love story with a good dash of humor. Much of the humor centers around the culture clash between Standish and the 18th century family. Standish uses modern terms and slips when he reveals things that happen in the future. The culture clash is a cautionary tale for would be travelers. This film appealed to many women because Leslie Howard was a heart throb for many of them. My mother loved this film and could watch it over and over. She was so disappointed when late in her life it disappeared from the old movies shown on TV.

“It is currently not commercially available, but a number of vendors have poor quality CDs or tapes for sale. All of these were probably made from a VHS tape from a TV showing. The tape was deteriorated and possibly copied several times so there is a lot of instability and wiggling of the image. The original broadcast used extreme compression of the video and sound. As a result the noise level rises to become very loud until dialog causes the gain to be cut. As a result the dialog is sometimes very indistinct. The music which was originally soft also rises to match the level of the dialog. Once this is restored by hand, the film is fairly listenable. The complaint of another reviewer about the music being too loud may stem from watching a copy with similarly compressed sound. In addition the broadcast severely cropped the film and did not stabilize the jitter.

This is a film that deserves restoration from the existing prints, but when and if this happens is unknown. Until then buying one of the existing CDs may be the only way to view this fine film.”

On the message board at the bottom of that page is a post by aaronjv-1 that mentions that a brand new 35mm print was slated to play at the Lovecraft film festival in September, 2011.   He goes on to say about the film:

“The grandson of director Frank Lloyd will introduce the picture and talk about his granddad’s favorite, which was also H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite–he watched it four times, and it inspired him to write his own classic time-traveler possession tale, “The Shadow Out of Time”.

A quick search on Google reveals that the film is available on youtube at

I hope to watch it tonight.   Please feel free to do the same and post your comments here.  I would love to hear what you have to say.

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