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The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | December 1945 (USA)
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A serial killer (circa 1916) is targeting women with 'afflictions'; one night during a thunderstorm, mute Helen feels menaced.

Director:

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

The close-ups of the killer's eyes and hands actually show those of director Robert Siodmak. See more »

Goofs

After Helen first fetches the ether from the bathroom cabinet, she leaves the bathroom without closing the cabinet door. No-one goes back to do anything with it, and seconds later the cabinet door has closed itself. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Warren: [fires her gun] Murderer, you killed them. You killed them all.
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Connections

Features The Kiss (1914) 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

 
excllent psychological thriller
2 April 2001 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

This is one of the most elegantly crafted, paced, photographed and designed of all lady-in-distress thrillers, a sub-genre I am not altogether fond of, but in this case the result is something near to a masterpiece. The actors, especially Dorothy McGuire, are first-rate. I'm particularly in love with the house, a cavernous Victorian, over-decorated, visually and spatially 'busy' place, full of odd furniture and fixtures, rugs, lamps and mirrors, it is as much a character as any person in the film. Kudos to the RKO art department, fifty plus years later I salute them. The way the house is explored is a fascinating as the way the characters are presented. Bit by bit we grow accustomed to the place and its denizens, and when the inevitable thunderstorm happens we feel comfortable inside, aware of the menace within we are none the less seduced by the grandness of the place, indeed enveloped by it, as the air of danger becomes almost cozy, and the gothic surroundings become as comforting as they are baleful. This is no small trick; it's an art. Name a film of the past thirty years that comes close to The Spiral Staircase in its exploration of the various shades of meaning in what for want of a better term one would have to call the Great Gothic Place.


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