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The Other (1972 film)

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The Other
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Mulligan
Produced byThomas Tryon
Robert Mulligan
Written byThomas Tryon
Based onThe Other
by Thomas Tryon
StarringUta Hagen
Diana Muldaur
Chris Udvarnoky
Martin Udvarnoky
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyRobert L. Surtees
Edited byFolmar Blangsted
O. Nicholas Brown
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 26, 1972 (1972-05-26)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.25 million[2]
Box office$3.5 million (US/ Canada)[3]

The Other is a 1972 American psychological thriller film directed by Robert Mulligan, adapted for film by Thomas Tryon from his novel of the same name. It stars Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, and twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, with Victor French, John Ritter, and Jenny Sullivan in supporting roles.


In the summer of 1935, identical twins Holland and Niles Perry enjoy playing on their family farm. Earlier in the year the boys' father died in an accident in the apple cellar, leaving their mother deeply melancholic and agoraphobic. Instead the farm is looked after by their father's brother George and his wife Winnie, along with their bratty son Russell. Also residing nearby are the twins' pregnant older sister Torrie, her new husband Rider, and their Russian emigrant grandmother Ada, with whom Niles shares an especially close relationship. Ada has taught Niles to astrally project his mind into the bodies of other living creatures, an ability that runs in the Perry family; they refer to this as "the great game."

Though the apple cellar is off-limits after their father's death, the twins enjoy playing there. One day while playing in the cellar, they are discovered by Russell, who sees that Niles is wearing the Perry family ring. Russell threatens to tell on him for having the ring, which he says was supposed to be buried. Holland tells Niles that the ring is always passed from eldest son to eldest son, and that after the death of their father, Holland (the elder twin by 20 minutes) came to possess the ring and can do whatever he likes with it, including giving it to Niles. Niles hides the ring, along with other secret trinkets, in a Prince Albert tin he conceals from his mother.

Uncle George puts a padlock on the apple cellar to keep the twins out, but Holland knows a secret stairway from the barn that allows them access. In revenge for Russell tattling about the cellar, and to prevent him from telling about the ring, Holland hides a pitchfork in a haystack in the barn. While Niles and Russell are playing in the barn, Russell jumps into the haystack and is impaled. Niles is horrified, but keeps his brother's secret. Later, Niles and Holland tease their neighbor Mrs. Rowe, causing her to scold Niles (who she mistakes for Holland) and report him to Ada. Holland takes revenge on Mrs. Rowe by frightening her with a live rat, knowing that she is terrified of them. The shock causes her to have a fatal heart attack. Holland runs away without telling anyone, but accidentally leaves his harmonica behind.

The boys' mother becomes suspicious of Niles' secrecy and finds the tobacco tin containing the ring; it also contains a human finger. She demands Niles tell her how he got the ring and refuses to believe him when he says Holland gave it to him. Holland rushes at his mother and struggles to take the ring from her, knocking her downstairs. The fall leaves her catatonic and paralyzed.

Several days later, Mrs. Rowe's body is discovered. Ada finds Holland's harmonica and goes to Niles to ask if he knows what happened. Niles finally admits that Holland has been doing "bad things" all summer. Ada tries to force Niles to admit that Holland has been dead since their birthday last March, when he fell down a well, but Niles is unable to accept the truth. In a trance, he recalls using "the game" to communicate with his dead twin the night before Holland was buried. Holland instructed Niles to open his coffin, cut off his finger, and take the ring. Ada realizes that Niles has been using the game to keep his brother alive in his mind and that it is in fact Niles who is responsible for all of the tragedies. Unwilling to surrender her beloved grandson, Ada warns him that he must never play the game again.

Torrie gives birth to a baby girl, whom Niles adores, but Holland (Niles), who is fascinated with the recent kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, steals the infant. A posse is formed to find the child, while Ada, suspecting the worst, searches for Niles. The baby is discovered drowned in a wine cask, and an intellectually disabled farmhand is lynched for the murder. Ada finds Niles alone in the apple cellar, demanding that "Holland" tell him where the baby is. Realizing what has happened, Ada pours kerosene into the cellar, sets it afire, and throws herself into the inferno.

Months later, the remains of the burnt barn are cleared away. Niles escaped the fire due to "Holland" previously cutting the padlock from the cellar door. With Ada dead and his mother a catatonic and paralyzed invalid, no one suspects Niles' secret.


The theatrical cut ends with a shot of Niles looking down from his bedroom window while Winnie calls him downstairs for lunch, hinting that Niles remains unsuspected for his crimes. When the film aired on CBS in the 1970s, the final shot replaces Winnie's line with a voiceover by Niles: "Holland, the game's over. We can't play the game anymore. But when the sheriff comes, I'll ask him if we can play it in our new home." The voiceover is dubbed by a different child than the actor and may have been edited into the television version to imply that Niles had not gotten away with murder, but was now waiting to be taken to a mental health care facility. All subsequent media releases and television broadcasts omit this voiceover in favor of the original theatrical ending.



The film was shot entirely on location in Murphys, California and Angels Camp, California. Director Robert Mulligan had hoped to shoot the film on location in Connecticut, where it takes place, but because it was autumn when the film entered production (and therefore the color of the leaves would not reflect the height of summer, when the story takes place) this idea was dropped. Assistant director/associate producer Don Kranze picked the location for the house in Murphys, having remembered it from the 1947 film The Red House. The fairground sequence was shot in Angels Camp.

Mulligan described his intentions with the film: “I want to put the audience into the body of the boy with this shot and to make the experience of the film, from beginning to end, a totally subjective one.” Of the character of Niles, he commented, “If Niles could have life just the way he wanted it, his world would contain only Ada, Holland, and himself—preferably only Holland and himself." Of the character of Ada, he commented, “She was the heart of the house. She has a primitive sense of imagination and drama, which is the greatest thing an adult can give a child...Her only failing is that she has a maternal love so strong that it blinds her to what is happening. Though she enriches and turns on the child’s imagination, her gift is used in a destructive way by the child.”[4]

This would be the only movie appearance by the twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky], the featured stars. Mulligan never shows the brothers in frame together. They are always separated by a camera pan, or an editing cut.

John Ritter would make one of his earliest appearances in the film, as the boys' brother-in-law, Rider Gannon. Decades later, on an episode of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, Ritter paid tribute to Robert Mulligan in a scene where his character quoted To Kill A Mockingbird.[5]

Rider's young wife and the twins' sister, Torrie, is played by Jenny Sullivan.

Goldsmith's compositions for the film can be heard in a 22-minute suite found on the soundtrack album of The Mephisto Waltz. This CD was released 25 years after the release of the film. According to the liner notes of the soundtrack, over half of Goldsmith's music was removed during the film's post-production. It does not specify whether this was the result of deleted footage or a decision affecting the music only.[citation needed]

Chris Udvarnoky eventually became an emergency medical technician. He died in Elizabeth, New Jersey on October 25, 2010, at the age of 49. Martin Udvarnoky works as a massage therapist in Summit, New Jersey.


The film experienced a quiet theatrical run, but it had regular television airings in the late '70s. Among the film's admirers was Roger Ebert, who wrote in his review, "[The film] has been criticized in some quarters because Mulligan made it too beautiful, they say, and too nostalgic. Not at all. His colors are rich and deep and dark, chocolatey browns and bloody reds; they aren't beautiful but perverse and menacing. And the farm isn't seen with a warm nostalgia, but with a remembrance that it is haunted."[6] After Chris Udvarnoky's death on October 25, 2010,[7] Ebert paid tribute to Udvarnoky on his Twitter page.[8]

Tom Tryon, however, was disappointed with the film, despite having written the screenplay himself. When asked about the film in a 1977 interview, Tryon recalled, "Oh, no. That broke my heart. Jesus. That was very sad...That picture was ruined in the cutting and the casting. The boys were good; Uta was good; the other parts, I think, were carelessly cast in some instances--not all, but in some instances. And, God knows, it was badly cut and faultily directed. Perhaps the whole thing was the rotten screenplay, I don't know. But I think it was a good screenplay."

In the same interview, Tryon also hinted that he had been initially considered to direct the film before Mulligan was hired for the job: "It was all step-by-step up to the point of whether I was going to become a director or not. The picture got done mainly because the director who did it wanted to do that property, and he was a known director; he was a known commodity."[9]

See also


  1. ^ "The Other". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 10, 2020.
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
  3. ^ Solomon p 232. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 6, 1972). "The Other". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 11, 2015.
  7. ^ Obituaries & Guestbooks from The Star-Ledger
  8. ^ "Ebertchicago". Twitter.
  9. ^ ^ a b c Dahlin 1977, p. 263


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