7.5/10
7,854
111 user 56 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 

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
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
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 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
The Suspect (1944)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1902 London, unhappily married Philip Marshall meets young Mary Gray, who is unemployed and depressed. Their deepening friendship, though physically innocent, is discovered by Philip's ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Dean Harens
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
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.

Director: John Brahm
Stars: Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders
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
The Lodger (1944)
Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A landlady suspects her new lodger is Jack the Ripper.

Director: John Brahm
Stars: Laird Cregar, Merle Oberon, George Sanders
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A man is reunited with his childhood friend and her husband, who believe he knows the truth about the death of her rich aunt years earlier.

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott
The Spiral Staircase (TV Movie 2000)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

During a storm, a group of people are trapped inside a mansion with a killer.

Director: James Head
Stars: Nicollette Sheridan, Judd Nelson, Alex McArthur
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 | Plot 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

Joan Crawford, after receiving critical praise for her performance in A Woman's Face (1941), at one point campaigned for the role of the mute girl played by Dorothy McGuire. Crawford also owned the rights, but MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer vehemently opposed the idea, telling her "No more cripples or maimed women". See more »

Goofs

SPOILER:Mrs. Warren is presented as bedridden yet, when Helen is searching for the gun she checks the entire room - though this may suggest that she already knows her employer is not such an invalid as she makes out. See more »

Quotes

Constable: She's dead!
Dr. Parry: Well, in that event, Constable, I certainly can't do her any harm.
See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) 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

 
Visuals Add To Already-Excellent Film
19 October 2005 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This was an excellent suspense film with outstanding cinematography and interesting characters played by a strong cast.

There are lots of complimentary adjectives in the above sentence but the film deserves it, particularly the photography (see this on DVD). The lighting is as good as anything I've ever seen in film noir (this is not a film noir, as one reviewer correctly points out). In fact, outside of David Lean's "Oliver Twist, " this may be the best-looking black-and-white film I've seen. A good part of the visual treat is viewing the fantastic Victorian house where most of the action takes place.

The lead character, played beautifully by Dorothy McGuire, is one the viewer cares about which helps get one involved in the story. All the other characters are fun to watch, and are detailed here in other reviews. I go along with most in saying Ethel Barrymore was the most likable.

There are a few holes in the storyline, to be sure, but one doesn't care since the film movies rapidly, the story keeps you so involved and the visuals and audio are so interesting. This latter also features the longest thunderstorm on record!


61 of 73 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

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed