Thursday, November 27, 2014

Graved Invitation

I know Halloween's over, but Ms. Spenser wants to keep watching scary movies. It turned out she hasn't seen The Uninvited (1944), so here we go.

Ray Milland and his sister Ruth Hussey are bumming around the Cornwall coast and find a deserted old manor. They fall in love with it when their terrier chases a squirrel up the chimney. They impulsively buy it for a suspiciously low price, and find out that a woman had died there. Her daughter Stella (Gail Russell) has a strange attachment to the place. And that's not the only strange thing going on.

This is a very atmospheric ghost story, but a rather romantic one. There are some frights, but they are mostly cozy frights. The scariest room of the house is the studio, which Milland makes into his music studio. There, he composes Stella by Starlight, the theme made popular by this movie. So he couldn't have been too uncomfortable there.

In fact, Milland does a lot of clowning around in this film, considering it is a ghost story. Gail Russell is a bit haunted, or at least a touch neurotic, but she's so lovely, it's hard to be scared. The scariest thing in the movie is Cornelia Otis Skinner, playing the fierce woman who may have been a little too close to the dead woman. She now runs a sanatorium, a cathedral-like pile, where young Stella is to be locked up for her own good.

Mostly this is a romantic movie - it reminded me of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir that way. I think it will cause more sighs than chills.

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