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A brother and sister move into an old seaside house they find abandoned for many years on the English coast. Their original enchantment with the house diminishes as they hear stories of the previous owners and meet their daughter (now a young woman) who now lives as a neighbor with her grandfather. Also heard are unexplained sounds during the night. It becomes obvious that the house is haunted. The reasons for the haunting and how they relate to the daughter whom the brother is falling in love with, prove to be a complex mystery. As they are compelled to solve it, the supernatural activity at the house increases to a frightening level.Written by
Russell West <email@example.com>
Although it appears that Windward does not have electricity because the light is from candles and oil lamps, the use of a radio makes it possible the house is wired. In the novel, it is clear that the house has electricity as characters "switch on the lights." (However the radio could perfectly well be battery operated: these were common at the time - the battery provided both high voltage for the valves and low for their heaters.) See more »
The covers on the headlights (see above) disappear midway through. See more »
Old Hollywood may not have had digital, but they sure knew how to fake it. Take this movie. I could swear it was filmed on a rocky British coast. But no. According to IMDb, it looks like production never left the LA area or maybe even the studio lot. In my book, that's quite a technical feat. Besides, the crashing waves and and cliff-side mansion add a ton of atmosphere to a really good ghost story.
Actually, it's as much a mystery movie as it is a haunting. Just who the heck is this sobbing spirit and why is she bugging poor sweet little Stella (Russell). In fact, was there ever a more appealing screen presence in any film than actress Russell is here. She's got a level of innocent appeal that most actresses only dream about, and steals the film with an unforgettable charm.
Speaking of charm, Russell's got a lot of competition from Milland and Hussey who are simply delightful as the urbane brother and sister. Their scenes together amount to little marvels of civilized chemistry. In fact, this may be the most charmingly done story of the occult on record. It's almost like the supernatural happenings are secondary to the array of compelling characters, including the tyrannical Commander (Crisp).
Now, neither the swirling specter nor the ghostly sobbing scared me, but Miss Holloway (Skinner) sure as heck did. Talk about ice-cold intelligence. If you weren't wacko when you entered her Nazi sanitarium, you soon would be. Then there's poor flighty Miss Bird (Stickney). I can see her entering the place as a highly competent librarian, but soon reduced by "therapy" to flapping her arms and collecting rocks. Then too, what's with Holloway's attachment to the deceased Mary Meredith—was this Hollywood maybe pushing the envelope.
Anyhow, the movie is studio (Paramount) craftsmanship at its best, including the enchanting title tune "Stella by Starlight". Whatever old Hollywood's failings, and they had many, the studios could on occasion come up with real winners. Fortunately, this is one of them.
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