A wealthy former mental patient goes home to her estate to rest and recuperate. While walking the grounds one day she hears the screams of a woman coming from underneath the ground who has ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
She Waits . . . for this to turn into "Rebecca," but in vain
A wealthy man, whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances, brings his perky but insecure new bride to his family home, which is dominated by a crazy old woman. Yep, it's deja vu all over again! But to avoid being sued by Alfred Hitchcock or Daphne du Maurier, the filmmakers give the second wife a name, make the old housekeeper sensible while assigning the husband's mother the eccentric-crone role, and hint at real supernatural involvement in all the strange goings-on. But all the cosmetic changes can't mask the basic structure of "Rebecca," although this is an above-average ripoff thanks to the presence of an Oscar-winning actress, Patty Duke, in the Mrs. De Winter role, and an Oscar-winning director, Delbert Mann ("Marty," "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs"), who wrings as much atmosphere as he can out of an over-orchestrated soundtrack, a wind machine and an oft-recycled set (I believe this particular house was reused in "The Devil's Daughter" and might have served as "The House That Would Night Die," appropriately enough). Throw in slumming Hollywood vets Beulah Bondi and Dorothy McGuire as the requisite old women, ever-earnest Lew Ayres as the requisite crusty old doctor, and aging pretty boy from U.N.C.L.E. David McCallum as the requisite moody, mysterious husband and you've got an adequate low-rent chiller, although most of the people involved deserved better.
As our film opens, kooky old McGuire is wandering her dark, empty house, calling out for a ghost named "Elaine" until older but stabler Bondi ushers her back to bed. Not long after, the newlywed McCallum and Duke show up unannounced. Omigosh, you wonder, is Patty going to start acting funny? Well, duh. But since Patty Duke could act, it's actually kind of compelling to watch, and the transitions imposed upon her character give her the chance to show off some range and depth. But while we buy Patty's transformation, we never buy McCallum's love for her since he lets his floppy hairstyle do most of the acting for him. The old folks are along for the ride and royalties and it's nice to see them getting some work. You know where it's going, but you don't mind the ride.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this