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The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 31 May 1946 (Argentina)
In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Helen
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Blanche
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...
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Nurse Barker
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Mr. Oates
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Constable
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Storyline

In 1916, beautiful young mute Helen is a domestic worker for elderly, ailing Mrs. Warren. Mrs. Warren's two adult sons, Albert (a professor) and womanizing impudent Steven, also live in the Warren mansion. Mrs. Warren becomes concerned for Helen's safety when a rash of murders involving 'women with afflictions' hits the neighborhood. She implores her physician, Dr. Parry, to take Helen away for her own safety. When another murder occurs inside the Warren mansion, it becomes obvious that Helen is in danger. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

31 May 1946 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Silence of Helen McCord  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While this film was based on Ethel Lina White's 1933 novel "Some Must Watch," there are several major differences. In the novel, the maid stalked by the killer was not mute. It was also set in contemporary England, not early 1900's New England. Finally, the title of the film and the idea of incorporating a "spiral staircase" as a thematic element comes from another source entirely: Mary Roberts Rinehart's 1908 novel "The Circular Staircase." The heroine of the book was not mute or crippled, nor were any of the murderer's victims. See more »

Goofs

After Blanche has her argument with Steven, she goes into Helen's room to talk to her. While Helen is packing her suitcase, she takes a picture frame off the nightstand and lays it on the bed twice. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Parry: The only thing that keeps me from cracking you in the jaw is the almost certain possibility that it would break your neck.
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Connections

Referenced in Black Christmas (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz Op. 34 No. 2 in A minor
(uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin
Played during the scene at the silent movie theater
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Riveting Masterpiece
23 June 2003 | by (Valley Stream, New York) – See all my reviews

The Spiral Staircase is an excellent film.

Dorothy McGuire gives a great performance as a mute woman in a town where disabled women are being killed, I think she deserved an Oscar nomination. She does a lot of emoting with her eyes and her body language.

The technical aspects of this film are amazing. The score is extremely creepy, the camera work is excellent, and the main set is well designed. There are some extreme close-ups of an eye that are very spooky.

This is a movie that Alfred Hitchcock would have made. There is a long and extremely affecting dream sequence that is riveting. Elsa Lanchester is very good as servant, and Ethel Barrymore deserved her Oscar nomination for playing the employer of the mute woman.

An excellent movie that is a must see.


36 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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