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This 1944 Paramount film is one of my very favourites. Long hailed as Hollywood's first attempt at a "serious" ghost story, it will no doubt please most all fans of the genre. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald who are siblings. They are nearing the end of their seaside holiday in Cornwall, England when they happen to come across a lovely old deserted Georgian house while chasing their terrier, Bobby. The Fitzgeralds meet the dour owner (played by Donald Crisp) and they purchase the small mansion for a surprisingly affordable amount of money. Naturally, the house is haunted. The acting - particularly that of Gail Russell as the luminous, moonstruck Stella Meredith - is effective and charming. The black-and-white cinematography by Charles Lang is exquisite as is Victor Young's hauntingly lovely theme, "Stella by Starlight". The film has a moody, frisson quality which few films of the "ghost genre" can match. In one of her very few film appearances, Cornelia Otis Skinner is memorably sinister as Miss Holloway who was a friend of Stella's mother, the deceased Mary Meredith. A thoroughly enjoyable film with some real jolts and a great atmosphere, ghost fans should be enthralled by this one.
If you're in the mood for a chilling, well-plotted, atmospheric mystery, you owe it to yourself to see this house-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff type of mystery. The intricate plot will delight mystery fans and the acting by Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell, Donald Crisp and Cornelia Otis Skinner is excellent. Especially fascinating and chilling is the performance of Miss Skinner as Miss Holloway, the sinister owner of a clinic for disturbed women. Victor Young's background score adds immeasurably to the tense proceedings. His "Stella by Starlight" has become a classic composition for piano and orchestra. The old house itself with its huge windows overlooking the sea and its spacious interiors inhabited by an unseen presence, is the sort of dream house anyone would love to live in--except for 'The Uninvited'. Truly a high quality ghost story that also happens to be an absorbing mystery.
I saw this movie many years ago. Every time I knew it was coming on, I would turn off all the lights and make sure I was alone. It scared me to death. Years later I would look for it, but never could remember its name or the actors in it, but it haunted me. It is a movie you will never forget. With no blood or gore, it will frighten you or give you chills for a long time to come. The acting is great and the music helps set the mood. The house was beautiful. 10 years after I saw it, the image of the house, the sound of the cries and that cliff...those were the things I remembered. Now that I know it, I will go buy it. It is the best thriller I have ever seen.
One of the posters described this as a "comfort" film which says it for
me. I absolutely love this movie. It has been one of my favorites for
years and years. I am also very lucky that my mother contacted a rare
book company and found me the book, which is also wonderful. In the
book (which I believe was written right before World War II began), the
Ray Milland character is a writer, and there are many more characters.
In fact, there are two men interested in the Ruth Hussey character. In
its own way, The Uninvited book is equally as wonderful as the film,
and the movie definitely keeps the gist of the story. I'm glad Milland
is a composer in the movie, because how could we do without "Stella by
Starlight," one of the most heavenly songs ever written. The music
contributes to the wonderful atmosphere of "The Uninvited."
I read through the postings and was interested to see the Rebecca comparisons. "Rebecca" is one of my all time favorites as well, and I feel like an idiot saying I've never connected the two. But yeah, the Mary Meredith sure was on a pedastal, wasn't she? Otis Skinner's total, over the top performance is a real highlight. "No rough edges...all smooth..." - lots going on there!
It's tragic to see Gail Russell so young and beautiful and realize that alcohol would ravage her beyond recognition that and she would die so young.
She was lovely. The whole cast is marvelous. And I love that ghost! So, a mimosa toast to all of you who love this film as I do.
Roderick and his sister Pamela are vacationing along the English
seaside when they discover a beautiful old house with which they fall
immediately in love. They purchase the home from Commander Beech, an
elderly man whose daughter and son-in-law once lived in the house.
Almost as soon as Roderick and Pamela move in, the disturbances begin.
A woman can be heard sobbing in the early morning hours and the smell
of mimosa perfume is everywhere. Soon, Roderick takes a liking to the
Commander's granddaughter, a very pretty but solemn and haunted looking
girl named Stella. When Stella enters the house, the disturbances
increase alarmingly, threatening her life and driving her perilously
close to the sea cliffs. The Commander forbids her to set foot in the
house, for he knows of the terrible tragedy that occurred there 20
years earlier. But the guilty secret he's been keeping all these years,
a secret that involves Stella and her heritage, will not stay secret
anymore and Roderick must face a vengeful ghost if he wishes to save
the woman he loves.
This is a really great ghost story, a true classic of the genre. Everyone involved turns in a brilliant performance, especially Ray Milland as Roderick the sweet and likable composer and Ruth Massey as his spunky sister. Gail Russell as Stella is perfectly cast, always appearing shaken and fragile. The effects are terrific too! The crying ghost in particular will give you shivers as it echoes down the halls of the dark house and disappears with the dawn breeze. Light and shadow are used to maximum effect and despite the fact that this film was made in 1944, it never feels dated and it's lost none of its power to unsettle, disturb and even downright terrify.
Perfect viewing for a dark and stormy night. This is a flawless ghost story. Highly recommended.
How could I have considered myself a scary movie buff and not known
about this movie? I just happened on this movie last night (halloween
2005) on TMC. I loved it. Luckily I have a DVR and was able to pause
it, put my daughter to bed, then come back to the living room, dim the
lights, light a candle or two, then watch the ending uninvited, err . .
Some of what I loved about the movie were its subtleties in the story, the mix of relationships, its tongue-and-cheek humor, even in dire circumstances, the mood of the mansion, and the techniques used to "show the ghosts." The lights and darks and moods were wonderfully mastered. There is not one "normal" husband-wife relationship, yet the story pivots around a child and her relationship with her mother. I agree, along with my other writer colleagues, that there was a passionate relationship between Mary and Ms. Holloway. Check out those eyes on Ms. Holloway in her last scene! Not to mention the odd, but lovable relationship between the brother and sister having no problem living together in their mid 20's or early 30's. And the old-man doctor having the hots for the sister is just as entertaining as watching the brother have the hots for this "child" at least 10 years younger than he. I half expected the grandfather to fall for the house cleaner!
Add a beautiful, mysterious Cornish seascape - with cliff and huge house standing alone. Add the likes of veteran actors like Ray Milland, Donald Crisp, Ruth Hussey, Alan Napier, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and a charming newcomer in Gail Russell. Throw in the eerie, suspenseful story of a house with a secret - a house that is worth much, much more than it sells for but is sold for a song to new neighbors Milland and Hussey as siblings. Stir in the ever present, keen eye for mixing atmosphere with action by director Lewis Allen and a thought-provoking, interesting albeit somewhat predictable script by Dodie Smith (based on a popular novel by Dorothy Macardle). For extra measure and a stronger ghostly flavour, present a séance, an asylum for the mentally ill, a true cliffhanger, and of course ghosts with work left to do after they have NOT shuffled off this mortal coil. All these ingredients make a fine film called The Univited, a Paramount release that really tries to be a true ghost story with emphasis on atmosphere rather than action. Though the film has a few stretches which might have been enhanced a bit more with some more action, the film's overall quality succeeds in its goals. The Uninvited is a first-rate ghost story about a secret this solitary, palatial house has, and it creates its suspense with things like creaking doors, lights faintly moving, wind blowing windows in(or out), barely audible whispers floating in the air, and ethereal images casting their ghostly shadows for the living's visual consumption. Ray Milland is as ever very affable in the lead role and Gail Russell as the focus of the ghost intrigue is beautiful and talented. Hussey, Skinner, and Napier do very good jobs with the material, but Donald Crisp as Russell's strong-willed father makes the biggest impression. If you are looking for something that has all the trappings of a sophisticated haunted house film - The Uninvited is it.
An excellent ghost story, one I had never heard of. A good building of suspense, almost Hitchcockean, throughout the film. And Gail Russell had such beauty. I was unfamiliar with her as well, and in reading the bio on IMDb, I see why. What a shame. Check this one out. Grade: A
The Uninvited has been right at the top of my must see list for years
now and any film with that amount of build up is liable to disappoint;
but that is not the case with this film, as The Uninvited really lives
up to it's billing as one of the best ghost stories ever committed to
celluloid! The film works because it is not over reliant on any one
element of it; there's enough human drama to be interesting but not
overbearing while the story is important but doesn't get in the way of
the drama and this is all wrapped up in a thoroughly foreboding
atmosphere. The plot focuses on an old house by a cliff side. Brother
and sister(!) Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald take one look at the house
and fall in love with it instantly and after speaking with the house
owner, a Commander Beech, agree a price to buy the house. The deal is
initially unwelcome by the Commander's granddaughter Stella as it was
once her mother's house, who died when she was three years old.
However, she soon starts up a friendship with the brother and it's not
long before they realise that something is not quite right with the
The film is directed by Lewis Allen and he does a really good job with it. Much of the film takes place at night and this allows him to deliver a thoroughly chilling atmosphere and the way that the house is soaked in shadows is creepy in the extreme. The characters walk around with only candles to light the way and this fits in very well with the blood curdling screams of the unseen phantoms! The film stars the great Ray Milland, and he delivers a great performance; owning the screen with a charismatic swagger and helping to keep things interesting. The film also stars the beautiful Gail Russell as the love interest. The ghost plot almost takes a backseat at times to the developing love story between Milland and Russell's characters, but this is not a problem since the film always remains intriguing. The ghost story is not particularly complex but it has more than enough about it to carry along the film and the atmosphere. It all boils down to a suitable ending and overall this really is a brilliant little ghost story and one that should be a must see for all horror fans!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The casting of Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey as siblings buying an old house by the sea shore is a wonderful beginning to an excellent movie. Rick and Pam Fitzgerald decide to buy the house but have no idea of what they are getting into. This decision will change the course of both of their lives. Bobby the family dog and the maid's cat refuse to ascend up the long staircase knowing that someone or something is waiting there. If only people could see with the eyes of an animal because the Fitzgeralds would see the dangerous woman that waits for them and also for Gail Russell playing Stella Meredith. Stella (age 3) was found on the cliff edge when two women were fighting and one of them fall over the cliff to her death. Was it a murder or just an accident? Poor Stella doesn't know except that her dead mother wishes for her to stay close to this house. An evil present in the house tries her best to get Stella to jump off the cliff. Can Rick and Pam save Stella from death? Can they find out the long hidden truth of the incident nearly 17 years prior? In an age of special effects, this movie has few, but this movie is a classic without the effects. You will love the characters and the plot. Enjoy!
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