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The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | December 1945 (USA)
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2:00 | Trailer

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A serial killer (circa 1916) is targeting women with 'afflictions'; one night during a thunderstorm, mute Helen feels menaced.

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Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Helen
George Brent ...
...
Kent Smith ...
...
Blanche
Gordon Oliver ...
...
...
Nurse Barker
...
Mr. Oates
James Bell ...
Constable
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Storyline

Beautiful young mute Helen is a domestic worker for old ailing Mrs. Warren. Mrs. Warren's two 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

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

December 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Silence of Helen McCord  »

Company Credits

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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

The silent film showing at the Village Hotel is extremely scratched and flickery. This is as the print would be in 1945, but at the time the film is set it should be rather cleaner and less damaged. See more »

Quotes

Constable: She's dead!
Dr. Parry: Well, in that case, Constable, I certainly can't do her any harm.
See more »

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
See more »

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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