Monday, October 8, 2012

Movie Monday: The Uninvited (1944)

My second ghostly recommendation from Scorsese's 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time is The Uninvited, based on a novel by Dorothy Macardie, featuring a screenplay by Dodie Smith (I Capture the Castle! 101 Dalmations!) and Frank Partos.

What Scorsese has to say:
Another, more benign haunted house picture, set in England, no less atmospheric than The Haunting [which I will feature later] — the tone is very delicate, and the sense of fear is woven into the setting, the gentility of the characters.

The basic plot: during a getaway to the coast, a brother and sister (played by Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) come across a gorgeous mansion overlooking the sea. They decide to pool their meager resources to buy it. As brothers and sisters often do. No, really! It's charming.

(As I've been reminded by the more sensible forum posters on, in that time an unmarried sister would keep house for her bachelor brother, so I shouldn't tease.)

Isn't the house beautiful? Or is that just a model? Sadly, The Uninvited was filmed in California rather than England, and most of the actors are American, but you'll still be swept up in the mystery. Something isn't quite right with the house, you see. The animals run away. Disturbing sounds and cold spots trouble the new owners, and the maid is threatening to leave. The pretty girl down the street, who happened to grow up in the house, tries to leap off the cliff when she visits. What can be done?

Have a séance, of course!

After a slow start (during which an awkward romance develops between the brother and the cliff-leaping girl--their scenes are guaranteed to make you giggle), things start to get truly creepy. There's at least one jump-in-your-seat moment, and the special effects are surprisingly effective. The Uninvited is a great film for an October evening by the fire -- if you can find a copy. I had to buy the VHS tape, but there are rumors of a DVD release in the near future. Or perhaps you can find it on TCM?

Next week: The Innocents (1961)

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]


  1. She may be suicidal but I love her outfit! ;) This is indeed a creepy old fashioned movie. The bleakness and moodiness reminds me a bit of the film Rebecca. I hope it gets released on dvd soon! I guess its not on netflix? I'm surprised!

    1. I, too, was surprised that it's not on Netflix. I think there's a DVD out there that's available at used outlets, but apparently it isn't a very good transfer. lists a special edition DVD that's available at the end of this month, so let's hope that one makes it over to this side of the Atlantic before too long.

  2. I grew up on many these 1940s films and loved them, scary or not. No, I wasn't born then, but I caught a lot of them as re-runs in the 50s and 60s. Ray Milland was always one of my favorites--right up there with Cary Grant! I will definitely check out this movie as soon as it comes out on DVD.

    1. I grew up with a deep distrust of old B&W movies. Isn't that sad? I missed out on a lot. And Ray Milland was very charming. I love the song he sings in The Uninvited. Do you even have a VHS player anymore? If so, I can bring you my copy!

  3. The Uninvited is my favorite movie. Easily the best (and most intellegent) ghost movie ever made. The house, the setting, the mood, what great atmosphere! And the beautiful song "Stella By Starlight" which became a jazz standard came out of this movie. Also, there is a certain (not much taked about in the 40s) aspect of sexuality that is a suggested in this film. It's subtle, but if you've seen the movie, you'll understand. If you haven't seen this wonderful film, get the dvd. You owe it to yourself!

  4. Excellent film. Gail Russell is ethereal. finally restored and released on Bluray by Criteron.