Aged, wealthy Charlotte Hollis has lived as a recluse in the crumbling family plantation mansion in Hollisport, Louisiana since her father Sam Hollis' death thirty-six years ago. The only people who regularly see her are her hard-as-nails but seemingly loyal housekeeper, Velma Crowther, and her longtime friend and physician, Dr. Drew Bayliss. She has lived there most of her life except for a short stint in London thirty-seven years ago following the vicious murder of her married lover, John Mayhew, at the plantation's summer house while Sam was hosting one of his legendary grand balls in the mansion. She and John had planned to run off together that night, but instead he was bludgeoned to death, his head and right hand severed from his body. Nobody was ever convicted for his murder, but most people believe Charlotte did it after John changed his mind about running off with her. They also believe that Charlotte, whom they haven't seen in years, is a crazy old woman. Conversely, ...Written by
John Megna, who plays the little boy dared to enter Charlotte's "haunted" mansion near the beginning of the film, had also appeared as Dill Harris, the bragadocious neighbor boy who spent a memorable summer living next door to Atticus Finch and his family in To Kill a Mockingbird. See more »
Shots of Bette Davis (shot in heavy shadows) and an obviously much younger double are unsuccessfully cut together in the opening prologue sequence. See more »
[Played by the band at the party before "When the Saints Go Marching In"] See more »
They don't make 'em like this anymore, and, sad to say, we Americans don't have as many actors and actresses of this caliber anymore today, either. Nevertheless, despite its spotty campiness, unintentional funny moments, borderline flashback sequences, storyline holes and generally predictable plot, this is a spectacular film, especially considering the era in which it was made.
All the performances are strong, intense and excellent. Perhaps the best ones, however, are given by Olivia de Havilland and Agnes Moorehead, who have been more or less associated or stereotyped in other venues. Yes, this is the same Agnes Moorehead who is probably best known as Endora from "Bewitched," but it only serves as testimony that she was one actress who could steal thunder with any role.
Overall, the story is a good one, and realistic to the location given. The story would absolutely not work, for example, in a large urban area. The film is great fun, and knowing how the whole story plays out is an excellent reason to watch it again, as you know what the characters know. Sit back and enjoy the brillant acting on all counts!
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