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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 »

Director:

Delbert Mann

Writers:

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

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Stirred with uncertainty...trembling with desire! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Set in the 1920s, several stars of the day are mentioned: Norma Talmadge, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, John Gilbert, William S. Hart, Pearl White, Marilyn Miller, and Mabel Normand. See more »

Quotes

Executive: We sell new machinery. What do you know about drilling equipment for oil fields?
Rubin Flood: Not a thing.
Executive: Then why should we hire you?
Rubin Flood: You chew tobacco, mister?
Executive: I beg your pardon!
Rubin Flood: You talk crops and weather? You know who's had a baby lately? You know who goes to church and who don't? Who likes corn liquor and who likes store liquor? Who's a Republican, who's a Democrat?
Executive: Our methods are a little more modern than that.
Rubin Flood: Well, I'm telling you that the people out here are farmers, no matter how much oil they got in ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in That Girl: Dark on Top of Everything Else (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
"Every man has a sack of rocks to carry..."
14 May 2016 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

Intelligent and observant drama of small town lives in the 1920s. Robert Preston is a Midwestern family man and traveling salesman who loses his job, fights with his wife (who accuses him of infidelity), and walks out of the house all on the same day. The screenwriters, Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, adapting the celebrated play by William Inge, allow for smart, pungent, often amusing interplay between husband and wife, the couple and their in-laws, mother and son, and father and daughter. There's also a beautifully modulated sequence between Preston and Angela Lansbury, playing the local beautician who wouldn't mind dallying with a married man--though this one sees her as just a friend. The picture runs too long, and features too much of budding teenager Shirley Knight and her blind date (the atrociously mannered Lee Kinsolving). Preston, too, is often overstated in his approach to the central role, while spouse Dorothy McGuire has to contend with unflattering costumes and the proverbial wifely hang-ups (she's frigid in the bedroom, she treats her husband like another child, etc.). The film has that phony Warner Bros. backlot appearance that dogged so many of their period films for decades, and a few of the speeches are underlined with a high-toned literacy that doesn't have the ring of natural conversation. Delbert Mann's direction is uneven and the camera-work is barely adequate, however this character piece has interesting people, engaging grown-up talk and some surprising candor and wit. **1/2 from ****


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)
See full technical specs »

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