7.5/10
7,920
111 user 57 critic

The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 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.

Director:

Robert Siodmak

Writers:

Mel Dinelli (screenplay), Ethel Lina White (novel)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Lew Ayres, Thomas Mitchell
Phantom Lady (1944)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A devoted secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis
I Walk Alone (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Frankie Madison leaves prison expecting a share from his ex-partner. But Prohibition bootlegging didn't prepare Frankie for Big Business.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Police Lieut. Candella, longtime friend of the Rome family, walks a tightrope in the case of cop-killer Martin Rome.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

While on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards
The Killers (1946)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Helen has been incapable of speech since seeing her husband die - will she become the target of a deranged serial killer targeting disabled people?

Director: Peter Collinson
Stars: Jacqueline Bisset, Christopher Plummer, John Phillip Law
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dorothy McGuire ... Helen
George Brent ... Professor Warren
Ethel Barrymore ... Mrs. Warren
Kent Smith ... Dr. Parry
Rhonda Fleming ... Blanche
Gordon Oliver ... Steve Warren
Elsa Lanchester ... Mrs. Oates
Sara Allgood ... Nurse Barker
Rhys Williams ... Mr. Oates
James Bell ... Constable
Edit

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 | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Conflicts that freeze your emotions! Suspense that takes your breath!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 May 1946 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Silence of Helen McCord See more »

Filming Locations:

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 15, 1947 with George Brent reprising his film role. 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

Dr. Parry: The only thing that keeps me from cracking you in the jaw is the almost certain possibility that it would break your neck.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Black Stallion (1979) 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

See more »

User Reviews

 
The World Has No Place for Imperfections
13 July 2008 | by claudio_carvalhoSee 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")


24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 111 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed