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Subj: Creature Feature 110: The Uninvited(1944)
Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 at 04:46:15 pm EST (Viewed 61 times)
The Uninvited is a 1944 ghost story released by Paramount Pictures. Set in Cornwall, it's based on the novel Uneasy Freehold by Irish writer and historian Dorothy Macardle and starred Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell and Alan Napier. It was directed by Lewis Allen.
Brother and sister Rick(Milland) and Pamela(Hussey) Fitzgerald buy the abandoned Windward House on Cornwall's rocky coast and become friendly with Stella Meredith(Russell), the owner's granddaughter. They quickly learn that the house is haunted by Stella's mother and possibly another ghost. As Rick falls for Stella, Stella seems to fall under the influence of the ghost, attempting to throw herself over the cliff in the manner in which her mother died. The group, with the help of Dr. Scott(Napier), dig into the story of Stella's parents and learn the real reasons why the ghosts are haunting Windward, saving Stella and freeing the spirits from the house.
I'm a fan of movies from the WWII era. They have so much noir-ish atmosphere and likable characters. The Uninvited is a fine example of the mystery movies of the time with a rare supernatural theme. There is some humor but it's not an all-out comedy like Topper or Hold That Ghost. While the humor is corny, Ray Milland has such charming screen presence that he can pull it off. Old Ghost stories tend to show too much ghost, which lends itself to humor or not enough which can be creepy but unsatisfying. The Uninvited shows the ghost sparsely making it look menacing without overexposing it. After the buildup with the smell of mimosa, the sudden cold, and the disembodied crying, the ghost effects are chilling.
The unraveling of the mystery is a bit predictable but still interesting. I kind of felt like the story was a more whimsical version of Wuthering Heights but I haven't seen that movie in 35 years. I don't know how well The Uninvited will hold up with modern horror fans, some might find it uneventful, but I've always liked it.
Milland's opening narration. He has a great voice and his telling of the story has the rich quality of a top-notch Old Time Radio program.
The first visitation. There's less of a slow burn than you'd expect, with the cat being afraid to go upstairs and the sudden cold feeling. The viewer learning of the weird goings-on as Rick does is typical but Pamela having already experienced the haunting while Rick was away was an interesting touch. Creepy. And Rick's reaction has some nice humor, well played by Milland without being too much. The cinematography is excellent.
The seance. The heroes plan to set Stella's mind at ease with a fake seance but the ghost has other ideas. The ghost's appearance shortly afterward was well done, too. Quick, but chilling.
The ending. Stella returns to Windward and the ghost appears, causing her grandfather to suffer a heart attack as Rick, Pamela and Dr. Scott arrive, saving her from being forced to run off the cliff. After the mystery is explained, Rick tells off the ghost, driving it from the house.
The Uninvited trailer
Ray Milland had quite an interesting career, starring in such all-time classics as Lost Weekend(1945) and Dial M For Murder(1954). He also starred in Bulldog Drummond Escapes(1937), the baseball classic It Happens Every Spring(1949), X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes(1963),Frogs(1972) and the ridiculous The Thing With Two Heads(1972) in which he plays a bigotted scientist who has his head transplanted onto the body of Rosie Grier. I'd like to revisit all of these movies.
The song "Stella By Starlight", produced by Victor Young, became a jazz standard, performed by such legends as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald.
The Uninvited had a follow-up by Paramont, entitled The Unseen, which was directed by Lewis Allen and starred Gail Russell. The film has no supernatural element, though.
The effect scenes showing the ghost were removed by censors when the film was distributed in England.
You can watch The Uninvited here:
The Uninvited Part 1
The Uninvited Part 2
Next time: The Haunting
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