7.5/10
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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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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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Release Date:

31 May 1946 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Silence of Helen McCord  »

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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

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 event, Constable, I certainly can't do her any harm.
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Connections

Featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Les signes parmi nous (1998) 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

 
The World Has No Place for Imperfections
13 July 2008 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, a serial-killer is terrorizing a small town, killing women with imperfections. In the Warren manor, the mute servant Helen (Dorothy McGuire) nurses Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore) who is terminal in bed. The newcomer Dr. Parry (Kent Smith) falls in love for Helen and has the intention to take her to specialists in Boston for treatment for recovering her voice and marry her. When the reckless Steve Warren (Gordon Oliver) arrives from Europe, he stays in the mansion with his mother and his stepbrother Professor Albert Warren (George Brent) and has a brief affair with Albert's assistant Blanche (Rhonda Fleming). When a crippled woman is killed in the town, Mrs. Warren advises Helen to leave the house immediately since she is in danger. When a murder occurs in the mansion, Helen does not know who is trustful to help her to call Dr. Parry to rescue her.

"The Spiral Staircase" is a suspenseful stylish movie, with a magnificent black and white cinematography that follows the German Expressionism and wonderful set decoration in Victorian style. It is impressive the use of shadows and lights in many unforgettable scenes, like for example Blanche in the basement or Helen in the spiral staircase. The beginning is an awesome tribute to the earlier days of the cinema. The performances are excellent and it is impossible to individually highlight any actor or actress. The plot keeps the tension until the very end in this great movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Silêncio nas Trevas" ("Silence in the Darkness")


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