The Spiral Staircase

The Spiral Staircase

DVD - 2018
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One of the all-time great Hollywood chillers! A murderer is targeting disabled young women in a New England town, and Helen, a mute servant in a Gothic mansion, is terrified she's next. Mrs. Warren, the invalid, bullying mistress of the house, warns Helen to leave at once, rather than rely on her weak son and stepson for protection. But even as Helen is packing her things, she suspects she may be too late and the murderer is closer than she ever imagined.
Publisher: [United States] : KL Studio Classics, [2018]
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (83 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
video file,DVD video,region 1


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Jul 22, 2016

Taking place inside a gloomy old mansion with the killer’s wild bloodshot eye glaring out of darkened corners (an ocular cameo from director Robert Siodmak) and the eponymous staircase twisting crazily from shadowy basement to candlelit upper floors, "The Spiral Staircase" is an effective combination of gothic horror and film noir menace. An opening murder, reflected in the madman's eye, almost seems like a macabre dance between stalker and victim—an unsettling effect revisited towards the end without losing any of its initial punch. Lead actress Dorothy McGuire proves that actions can speaker louder than words as her silent character goes from coy grins to wide-eyed terror and an impressive supporting cast including Elsa Lanchester as a boozy maid and Kent Smith as the family doctor and Helen’s love interest provide some welcome relief from the mounting tension. But it is Ethyl Barrymore’s turn as Helen's employer, the crusty old matriarch Mrs. Warren, which grounds the film and provides some much needed dramatic depth. Pretty much predictable before you even reach the midway point, but it all unfolds with a cruel zeal that’s still fun to watch seventy years later.

Dec 26, 2015

"The Spiral Staircase", 1946, was a well-received film with some good actors. Ethel Barrymore was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 19th Academy Awards. Dorothy McGuire's performance was praised. But George Brent looked fattish and easily replaceable. Rhonda Fleming is brunette haired here and that color did nothing for her. Kent Taylor as the doctor who liked the mute Dorothy Mcguire has never been an impressive actor from the moment he was born to the day of his departure. The movie itself was probably a breakout for modern day audiences who have sat through thousands of serial killer plots and no longer feel pity for the victims. I liked seeing this film in black and white; it puts a gritty touch to the picture that would be lost giving it color. And, best of all, is for us living in 2017 to see a tough of what life looked liked 70 years ago.

Jan 27, 2015

This is a 1946 American psychological thriller directed by Robert Siodmak, based on Ethel Lina White's novel: Some Must Watch (1933).
Set in early 20th century New England, the film is about a serial killer who murders disabled young women in the community.
His next victim apparently is Helen, a mute girl working as a live-in companion for the wealthy, bedridden Mrs. Warren.
Mrs. Warren urges her to leave the house, as does Dr. Parry, who knows the reason for Helen's loss of speech and hopes to help her get her voice back.
It is a perfectly eerie stylish thriller as if Hitchcock had filmed it.
The performance of Dorothy McGuire as a terrified mute is superb because she conveys her inner thoughts without dialogue.
Siodmak created a near-masterpiece.

voisjoe1 Aug 21, 2014

The Spiral Staircase - Lots of creepy people live in a creepy old mansion and there is a murderer in town. Ethel Barrymore received an Oscar nom as supporting actress playing an old bedridden lady who may be half crazy or half sane. Dorothy McGuire plays a young mute woman who has only a somewhat audible word or two as she is crying for help to avoid being the victim of a serial killer. Elsa Lanchester, known for playing the “bride” of Frankenstein gets to play the part of a full human being here.

Jan 01, 2014

This spooky mystery/thriller is an absolute classic. A dark Victorian mansion in a relentless thunderstorm houses the players, one of whom is a serial killer who's after a sweet mute girl... Ethel Barrymore is the cantankerous, omniscient bedridden matriarch, crabbing at Nurse 'Barker' (lol), whom the caretaker, (who's married to the hilarious brandy sneaking Elsa Lanchester, the housekeeper) sometimes thinks is a man... It's not hard to figure out the killer; but that's not what matters, or should, to an old movie enthusiast. The atmosphere Robert Siodmak lends to this film, with, for example, the tension of a mute young woman who can't scream for help... with a hairy eyeball (Siodmak's own, btw) glaring out of the darkness at her while a creepy theremin (love that instrument) sends chills up your spine... Wonderful ambience. Excellent movie.

Nov 24, 2011

A dumb girl, in both senses of the word, is maid/companion in a creepy old mansion. A killer is stalking disabled women, but she stays at her post, from motives of loyalty you and I could not possibly understand. Watch only if you are Siodmak or Barrymore fans. Note to movie victims: when there are a limited number of killer suspects, it is always, always the man SPOILER with the biggest and/or most mobile eyebrows.


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Jan 01, 2014

Mrs Oates (takes an empty bottle out of a kitchen cupboard and slams the door): "Here! Where's my brandy?" Mr. Oates: "I finished it for your own good." Mrs. Oates: "Well I wish you'd *stop* doing things for my own good." Mr. Oates: "With everything that's happening in this house, it's better that you keep your wits about you." Mrs. Oates: "I'm never more witty than when I've had a little nip! I see better, I hear better, and I *feel* MUCH better!" Professor Warren (in another room): "Oates, would you mind coming out a moment, and bring your hat and coat?" Mr. Oates: "There it is. Emma -- let's be serious for a minute. I want you to stay awake until I get back; keep an eye on Helen. I won't be long." Mrs. Oates: "I could keep a much better eye on Helen if I'd had a little nip!"


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