The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Article 2388 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-10-2007
Posting Date: 2-25-2008
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Featuring Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore

A young mute woman finds herself in danger when a serial killer who targets women with afflictions is on the loose.

It will be no surprise to anyone who has followed this series for some time to learn that I have a fairly large movie collection; in fact, sometimes I don’t always know everything I have. This movie sat on my hunt list for several months before I discovered that I had a copy of it waiting to be watched. As a mystery, it’s not very challenging; if you know a few of the basic movie-mystery-solving rules, you should be able to figure out who the culprit is. However, it scores extremely high in suspense and atmosphere, with the opening murder especially memorable and quite scary. An excellent cast helps as well, with Dorothy McGuire strong in a role with virtually no dialogue. Ethel Barrymore is wonderful as the family matriarch, and deserved her Oscar nomination for the role. I also liked Elsa Lanchester and Rhys Williams as a servant couple, and Sara Allgood as a nurse that gets very little respect. It’s more of a suspense/mystery than a horror movie, but nevertheless, it’s highly recommended.



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