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Return to Glennascaul (1953)

Orson Welles, taking a break from the filming of Othello (1951), is driving in the Irish countryside one night when he offers a ride to a man with car trouble. The man relates a strange ... See full summary »



Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Michael Laurence ...
Shelah Richards ...
Helena Hughes ...
John Dunne ...
Isobel Couser ...
Ann Clery ...
Narrator / Orson Welles


Orson Welles, taking a break from the filming of Othello (1951), is driving in the Irish countryside one night when he offers a ride to a man with car trouble. The man relates a strange event that happened to him at the same location. Two women flagged down his car one evening, asking for a ride back to their manor. They invited him in for a drink, and after leaving, he went back for his cigarette case. He found the manor deserted and decayed. In Dublin, a real estate broker told him the mother and daughter had died years ago. Welles, sufficiently spooked, drops the man off at his home, and speeds on by when two other stranded women wave for a ride. Written by Steven Dhuey

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Short | Horror | Mystery





Release Date:

1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Orson Welles' Ghost Story  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)
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Did You Know?


The film was given to RCA Recording Studios in Hammersmith to complete post-production. They engaged Joseph Sterling to edit it. When the film arrived, it had been very roughly assembled by someone not used to cutting room procedure: trims tightly wound up, no identification, etc. Originally, the film's commentary was given by Michael Laurence, who played Sean Merriman. When editing was completed, Hilton Edwards ran the film for Orson Welles. He then decided that he should re-do the commentary. See more »


Orson Welles: What happened to your car?
Sean Merriman: I had trouble with the distributor. I say, aren't you...?
Orson Welles: Uh... yes, I am. I've had trouble with my distributor too.
See more »


References Othello (1951) See more »


Crime Wave
Music by Bob Busby
Chappell Recorded Music Library
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User Reviews

"A short story straight from the haunted land of Ireland"
24 April 2009 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

During a break in the filming of 'The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952),' Orson Welles recounts a creepy "tall tale" allegedly told to him by a broken-down motorist to whom he offered a ride. Welles plays himself in the film, acting not only as the narrator, but more involvedly as the resident storyteller. One can imagine that it was this role, in addition to his obvious talents on radio, that inspired 'The Fountain of Youth (1958)' – a wonderful half-hour television pilot for "The Orson Welles Show," which boasted a concept not dissimilar to "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," but with Welles taking a more active presence in each episode's production (inconceivably, the show was immediately rejected). One also suspects the film's influence on the BBC's "Ghost Story for Christmas" series, the most impressive of examples of which are 'A Warning to the Curious (1972)' and 'The Signalman (1976)' {adapted from stories by M.R. James and Charles Dickens, respectively}.

The best kind of ghost stories, I think, that those told through an intermediary – it keeps them grounded in reality, which paradoxically makes them all the more creepy. The viewer's natural inclination is to trust the narrator's word, but in this case the narrator must rely on the word of the motorist, Sean Merriman (Michael Laurence), who could be making the whole story up… or, he could be completely sincere. It's that uncertainty that makes 'Return to Glennascaul (1951)' a perfectly chilling ghost tale, and a fine companion for a cold, lonely winter's night. We must not, of course, underestimate the emotional resonance of Welles' narrating voice, which contributes just as much atmosphere as Georg Fleischmann's hazy photography. The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1954, but lost out to 'Bear Country (1953),' one of Walt Disney's two-reeler nature documentaries. In any case, think about 'Return to Glennascaul' next time you decide to pick up two female hitch-hikers – I, for one, will be following Orson's example!

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