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The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960)

Approved | | Drama | 8 October 1960 (USA)
In Oklahoma in the 1920s, Rubin Flood (Robert Preston) loses his job as a travelling salesman when the company goes bankrupt. This adds to his worries at home. His wife Cora (Dorothy ... See full summary »


Delbert Mann


Harriet Frank Jr. (screenplay), Irving Ravetch (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Robert Preston ... Rubin Flood
Dorothy McGuire ... Cora Flood
Eve Arden ... Lottie Lacey
Angela Lansbury ... Mavis Pruitt
Shirley Knight ... Reenie Flood
Lee Kinsolving ... Sammy Golden
Frank Overton ... Morris Lacey
Robert Eyer Robert Eyer ... Sonny Flood
Penney Parker Penney Parker ... Flirt Conroy (as Penny Parker)
Ken Lynch ... Harry Ralston


In Oklahoma in the 1920s, Rubin Flood (Robert Preston) loses his job as a travelling salesman when the company goes bankrupt. This adds to his worries at home. His wife Cora (Dorothy McGuire) is frigid because of trying to make ends meet. His teenage daughter Reenie (Shirley Knight) is afraid of going out on dates, but eventually makes friends with a troubled Jewish boy Sammy Golden (Lee Kinsolving), and his son is a mama's boy. He finally storms out of the house when Cora falsely accuses him of having an affair with Mavis Pruitt (Dame Angela Lansbury). Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No motion picture ever lit up so warmly! And no picture has ever unlocked a more secret door into the private shame and thrill of men and women See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" by William Inge opened at the Music Box Theater in New York City on December 5, 1957, ran for four hundred sixty-eight performances and was nominated for the 1958 Tony Award for the Best Play. Frank Overton re-created his stage role as Morris Lacey in this movie. See more »


Ed Peabody: It's a new world, and we don't belong in it.
Rubin Flood: Any world I'm in, I belong in!
See more »


Featured in Biography: Angela Lansbury: A Balancing Act (1998) See more »


The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs
Composed by Max Steiner
Performed by Chet Atkins with Bob Thompson And His Strings
See more »

User Reviews

Poignant, well acted , low-key film
31 March 2000 | by coop-16See all my reviews

Robert Preston will be forever remembered as "The Music Man"-and well he should be. However, he gave many other fine performances, and one of the best was as Rubin Flood in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.Dwight McDonald once wrote an essay mocking "Ingeland and Kazanistan", and he may have had a point. At the same time, the series of films based on William Inges plays includes some of the best dramas of the fifties and early sixties..still, perhaps the most underrated period of Amnerican film.This film is not just an example of sentimental "americana". Though set in the past, it is not an exercise in simplistic nostalgia. Instead it reveals the sexual repression, Anti-Semitism,and snobbery which poisoned American life in the early part of this century.However, it does not simply look at the past from a standpoint of smug superiority. Instead, it suggests the dignity and inner strength of these people, as they struggled with economic and moral uncertainty.It has a superficially "happy' ending', yet it is still a sad and troubling portrait of the fragility of quotidian existence.

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Release Date:

8 October 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La oscuridad al final de la escalera See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor)
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