The Uninvited: Now on Criterion

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Just in time for Halloween, one of my very favorite ghost stories has been released in a beautifully restored edition from the wonderful folks at Criterion. It is The Uninvited, starring Ray Milland (“Love Story”) and Ruth Hussey (“The Philadelphia Story”), as a brother and sister who move into a beautiful but spooky house on the cliffs of Cornwall. Made in 1944, this was one of the first Hollywood films to treat a ghost story seriously and it is wonderfully eerie and romantic, with a very satisfying conclusion and a gorgeous score that includes the classic song, “Stella by Starlight.” By today’s standards, the scares are rather tame but the psychological horror and suspense are well handled. Both Martin Scorsese and Guillermo Del Toro have named it as among their favorite thrillers. Highly recommended. (No connection to the 2009 film of the same name.)

For a delectably spooky Criterion double feature, add I Married a Witch with Veronica Lake and Fredric March.

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The Uninvited (1944)

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 7:35 am

The new release called “The Uninvited,” based on a Korean horror film, reminded me of the unrelated (but very spooky) 1944 movie of the same name, starring one of my favorites, Ray Milland.
The original The Uninvited is the story of a brother and sister (Milland and “The Philadelphia Story’s” Ruth Hussey) who move into a mysterious house on the English coast. A series of eerie clues lead them to a story involving a woman who once lived in the house and her young daughter Stella (Gail Russell), now grown up, who still lives nearby.
This is not a horror film but a psychological drama with mystery, romance, and ghosts. When I first saw it as a teenager, I was especially intrigued because it had a rare screen appearance by stage actress Cornelia Otis Skinner, co-author of a book I loved, Our Hearts Were Young And Gay: An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s. It also introduced a song that has become a standard, “Stella by Starlight.”
I watched it again recently and found it still one of my very favorite ghost stories, with appealing characters and very satisfying conclusions to both the romance and the mystery. Fans of “Rebecca” will love this one, so if you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, non-gory ghost story, this is one of the best.

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