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The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 17 August 1945 (USA)
Bachelor Harry Quincey, head designer in a small-town cloth factory, lives with his selfish sisters, glamorous hypochondriac Lettie and querulous widow Hester. His developing relationship ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Nona
...
Hester Quincy (as Moyna Macgill)
...
Dr. Adams
Harry von Zell ...
Ben (as Harry VonZell)
...
Helen
Coulter Irwin ...
Biff Wagner (as Coulter F. Irwin)
...
John Warren
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Storyline

Bachelor Harry Quincey, head designer in a small-town cloth factory, lives with his selfish sisters, glamorous hypochondriac Lettie and querulous widow Hester. His developing relationship with new colleague Deborah Brown promises happiness at last...thwarted by passive, then increasingly active opposition from one sister. Will Harry resort to desperate measures? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

17 August 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Guilty of Murder?  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Theater Guild on the Air" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 18, 1947 with Geraldine Fitzgerald reprising her film role. See more »

Goofs

In the two newspaper headlines we see, The Concord Enterprise spells the family surname as Quincey, whilst Corinth Home News has it as Quincy. See more »

Quotes

Harry Melville Quincey: As the poet said, Home is where you go, and they have to let you in.
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Crazy Credits

"In order that your friends may enjoy this picture, please do not disclose the ending." See more »

Soundtracks

The Quilting Party (When I Saw Sweet Nellie Home)
(uncredited)
Music by John Fletcher
Lyrics by Frances Kyle
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User Reviews

 
The last of the Quincey's.
11 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Robert Siodmak directs this psychological film noir that is based on the Broadway play Uncle Harry by Thomas Job. It stars George Sanders, Ella Raines, Geraldine Fitzgerald & Moyna MacGill. The story follows Harry Quincey (Sanders) a shy clothes designer in small town New England. He lives with his two sisters, the pretty but manipulative Lettie (Fitzgerald) and the more scatty and care free Hester (MacGill). Into his life comes the gorgeous Deborah Brown (Raines) who quickly brings colour to his otherwise dull existence. But Lettie is far from impressed and sets about doing all she can to stop the couple getting married and living together. Her actions will have dire consequences for all of the Quincey family.

Though falling some way short of the noir standards of Siodmak's best genre efforts {The Killers/Criss Cross}, this none the less is a dandy piece dealing in various forms of obsession. Finding that it's produced by Joan Harrison gives weight to the notion that this is more a Hitchcockian small town thriller than an overtly film-noir piece. Harrison of course wrote a number of screenplays for Hitchcock, and sure enough as the film unfolds one feels like we are involved in something the big director would have revelled in. Quite what Hitch would have made of the palaver surrounding the ending of the film, one can only imagine, but yet again a nifty 40s thriller is saddled with an ending that has caused division across the decades.

Because of the Hays code, five different endings were tested for the film, with the one chosen vastly different to the one in the play. So while I personally find the existing ending quirky, and certainly not film destroying, it's sad that the incestuous elements of the source have been jettisoned and therefore taking away a crucial dark edge to the turn of events in the last quarter of the film. Harrison was incensed and promptly quit Universal Pictures in protest. With hindsight now, they could have ended the film about ten minutes earlier and it would have worked better. But cest la vie and all that.

Sanders is superb, very touching as the shy, naive designer pushed to his limit by sibling suffocation. Fitzgerald is glamorous and nails the devious side of her character with much conviction. While Raines, a touch underused due to the story, has a hard quality that puts one in mind of a certain Lauren Bacall, and that to my mind is very much a good thing. Some food for thought tho, I couldn't help wonder about if the roles had been reversed. Raines playing manipulative bitch and Fitzgerald the love interest definitely cries out as a winner me thinks.

It's a conventional story, but one that has depth and boasts a director capable of crafting the right sort of itchy mood. There's no technical trickery exactly, but attention to detail exists and between them the makers have produced an intelligent and gripping film, that, in spite of some foregoing of dark emotional undercurrents, is very recommended to noir and Hitchcockian supporters. 7.5/10


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